Postal and proxy voting
Have you had a postal vote for over 5 years?
If so, you will receive a letter early in the year asking you to complete a form to provide your up to date signature so that our records are correct.
The signature you provide on your postal vote statement, which accompanies your postal ballot paper, is checked against the signature you gave us on your original application form.
A fresh signature will help to avoid your postal vote being rejected if your signature has changed over the last few years.
When we ask for an up to date signature, we also ask for your date of birth again just to be sure that the date you originally provided was correct.
This 'postal vote refresh' helps to avoid any problems when you cast your vote by post. You may not be able to vote by post if you do not reply to the letter.
You may apply for a postal vote at any time. It can be for a particular election, for a specific period of time or indefinitely, and is linked to your current registration address. Consequently, if you move house and still require a postal vote, you will need to re-apply.
Postal votes are usually issued about ten days before an election and completed ballot papers must be returned by 10pm on election day.
Therefore, if you have a permanent postal vote, and will be going away on holiday around the time the postal votes will be issued, you may not receive your postal vote pack before you leave. Check the relevant dates on this year's Elections page.
You also need to check when postal votes are scheduled to be posted if you apply for a postal vote just for a particular election. If you are going on holiday you may leave home before your postal vote arrives.
Although postal votes can now be sent abroad it is not advisable as it can take too long to reach its destination and be completed and returned by election day.
If you are likely to be away when postal votes are sent out a proxy vote would be more suitable.
Postal voting security arrangements
As a result of new legislation, all postal vote applicants must supply their signature and date of birth in specific boxes on the application form.
These forms are now scanned and securely stored electronically so that when ballot papers are returned at election time the signatures and dates of birth supplied on the accompanying postal vote statement can be checked against those already held on the application. This is to help eliminate postal vote fraud.
Postal vote application form
If you would like a postal vote application form please contact our Electoral Services team. They will provide a personalised form which is also barcoded to assist processing when returned.
You can also download the postal vote application form (DOC/886KB/1 page).
Please don't alter the size of page or text, or alter the position of the text, in any way as this would result in your application scanning incorrectly.
Forms are also available from the Electoral Commission.
A proxy vote is where you appoint someone, a friend or member of your family perhaps, to go to your polling station and vote on your behalf.
If you apply for a proxy vote for a particular election you do not need anyone to support your application but you do need to give a reason, e.g., holidays, illness, employment.
If you wish to have a proxy vote for a specific period of time or indefinitely, you need to give the reason and ask someone, e.g. your doctor, nurse or employer, to sign your application.
All proxy vote applicants must supply their signature and date of birth in specific boxes on the application form.
To download the proxy vote you require, please visit about my vote.
If you are in any doubt as to which form you should use, contact Electoral Services.
For specific information about deadlines for a particular election please visit the relevant Elections page.