Postal and proxy voting
If you're unable to vote in person at the polling station, you can apply for a postal vote or nominate someone to vote by proxy on your behalf.
How to apply for a postal vote
You don't need to give a reason for choosing to vote by post, and anyone can apply:
- temporarily, for a single election
- for a specific period of time, for all elections within those dates
- indefinitely, for all future elections
You must print this form, sign it and either send it to us as a scanned image by email or send it to us by post at the below address. We can't accept forms with digital signatures.
If you don't have access to a computer, you can request an application form over the telephone or in person at South Lakeland House.
If you move and re-register to vote, you must reapply for your postal vote. This is because your postal vote is attached to your address and will not automatically move with you.
Your ballot papers
If you're going to be away from your registered address around the time the postal votes are sent, you can either have your postal vote sent to a different address or choose to vote by proxy instead.
If you're about to apply for a postal vote, you can tell us where to send your postal vote pack in your application form.
If you already have a postal vote, you can change the address temporarily for one election. To arrange this, you must contact Electoral Services in writing, by post or by email. Please include your name, registered address, the address you would like your postal vote to be sent to and a brief reason for the change.
If you already have a postal vote and would like it to be sent to another address indefinitely (for all future elections), you must reapply.
We can send postal votes abroad, but we advise against this because it can take too long for the postal ballot pack to reach you and be returned to us in time. We also advise against having your postal vote sent to another address if you're not going to be there for very long, as you may leave before the pack arrives. You may wish to apply for a proxy vote instead.
People who have had a postal vote for five years
When we send out postal ballot papers during an election, we will also include something called a postal vote statement in the pack. To protect against fraud, we check the signature and date of birth on the statement against the signature you provided when you applied for a postal vote. If the signatures don't match, your postal vote is rejected and isn't counted.
We're required by law to ask you for a new signature every five years. Signatures can change over time and this 'absent vote signature refresh' helps avoid your postal vote being rejected. The form will also ask you for your date of birth, just to check the information we have about you is correct.
Proxy voting is where you select someone you trust, a friend or relative perhaps, to go to your polling station and vote on your behalf.
There are different versions of the application form, depending on the reason you want a proxy vote. Please contact us if you're unsure which form you should use.
You must print this form, sign it and either send it to us as a scanned image by email or send it to us by post at the below address. We can't accept forms with digital signatures. If you don't have access to a computer, you can request an application form over the telephone or in person at South Lakeland House.
Anyone can have a temporary proxy vote for a single election. You need to provide a reason, but you don't need anyone else to support or sign your application.
You can only have a permanent proxy vote if you:
- have a disability and can't attend a polling station to cast your vote in person on polling day
- are away from home for education reasons
- are away from home for employment reasons
- live overseas
- are away from home because you are a Crown Servant or a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces.
If you want a permanent proxy vote because of a disability, for education reasons or for employment reasons, you must have someone support your application. This could be, for example, a health or social care professional, a tutor or an employer.
Being someone's proxy
If you've been appointed as someone's proxy, this means you can cast their vote on their behalf.
You can't be a proxy for more than two people at any one election or referendum, unless they are a close relative. Close relatives are defined as your spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild.
You must be aged over 18 and registered to vote in the election yourself.
Close to polling day, you will receive a proxy polling card telling you where to go to cast their vote.
If you're unable to attend this polling station yourself, you may be able to cast their vote by post. Please contact us for further information if you wish to do this.