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Postal and proxy voting
You can only vote if your name appears on the register of electors. If you're not sure whether you're registered, or if you need to register, please contact the Elections Team at the Shirehall on 0345 678 9015. Even when an election has been called, you still have time to register up to 12 working days before polling day.
Ways in which to vote
In person at your local polling station
Shortly before the election, we'll send a poll card to all eligible registered householders to confirm the date of the election, the location of their polling station and the hours that it'll be open. While you don't need your poll card to vote, it's a useful reminder to you, and it may help speed the voting process along if you present it to the staff on duty at your allocated polling station when you go and vote.
Simply turn up, collect a ballot paper and vote for your chosen candidate/party, before posting it in the ballot box provided.
If you have a postal vote in place, we'll send you a postal poll card to tell you when your ballot papers are likely to arrive, and what you should do in the unlikely event that you don't receive them.
Anyone can apply to have their ballot papers sent to them by post, instead of going to vote in person at a polling station. By completing and submitting a postal vote application form, you can choose to vote by post:
- Until further notice
- For an election held on a particular date
- For all future elections until a certain specified date
Completed postal vote application forms must be received for processing by the electoral registration officer no later than 11 working days before polling day.
Any permanent arrangement will remain in place until it's cancelled in writing by the elector, if the elector is no longer registered at that address, or if the elector fails to supply a new specimen signature after five years.
If you have a disability preventing you from signing your postal vote application form, the Elections Team can waive the requirement for you to provide a signature, as long as someone applies for a waiver on your behalf. Contact us for the appropriate application form if you'd like apply for a signature waiver.
I've applied for a postal vote - when should it arrive and what should I do if it doesn't?
We usually aim to send out ballot papers by first class post approximately two weeks before polling day. If your pack doesn't arrive, you can apply for a new one, but only between five working days before polling day and 5pm on the day of poll.
Can I vote in person instead of using my postal vote?
No – you must use the postal ballot paper which has been issued to you to cast your vote. If you want to cancel your postal vote, you can do so in writing up to 11 days before polling day.
People may appoint someone to vote on their behalf – the person appointed is known as a “proxy”, and they must vote at the elector’s polling station, which may be a different polling station to their own.
One of the benefits of this arrangement is that if the elector suddenly finds that they're able to attend their polling station in person on polling day, they'll still have the opportunity of voting themselves in person, so long as their proxy has not already cast their vote, nor applied to vote on their behalf by post.
How can I appoint a proxy?
Proxies must be properly appointed in advance of the election, and must sign and complete a proxy application form – the form can't be submitted without their signature. In cases where proxies are appointed for more than a single election, their application is likely to require further support. Details of when and what further support is required are shown on the proxy voting application form, and further guidance is available from the Electoral Services Team.
What if the proxy can't get to the elector’s polling station?
Proxies can themselves apply to vote by post on behalf of an elector, if for example they live away from the area where the elector is allocated to vote, or if they're postal voters themselves. If they wish to vote by post, they must complete and submit their own postal proxy application.
What are the timescales for proxy appointments?
- The deadline for completed proxy applications is 5pm, no later than six working days before polling day
- If the person being appointed as the proxy wants to vote by post, they must first be appointed by the elector, and then submit a postal proxy application themselves by 5pm, no later than 11 working days before polling day
- If an elector has a medical emergency which occurs after the normal proxy deadline, they may apply for an emergency proxy appointment up to 5pm on polling day. Support will be required from a medical source before such an application can be granted
- If an elector is called away on business after the normal proxy deadline, they may apply for an emergency proxy appointment on work grounds up to 5pm on polling day. Support will be required from their employer before such an application can be granted
There are a number of different types of proxy application form (single election only, on grounds of disability, education, employment, registered overseas electors, crown servants, armed forces and medical/occupational emergency), which can be downloaded direct from the Electoral Commission's website.
Additional information can also be found on the Your Vote Matters website.