Voting at the polling station, by post and by proxy

Voting by post

About voting by post

If you are unable to get to your polling station on polling day, you can apply to have your ballot paper sent to you in advance. This is called voting by post.

You do not have to give a reason why when you apply, but you must be registered to vote. You can choose to vote by post simply because you think that it would be more convenient for you.

You can apply to vote by post on a long-term basis or you can apply for just a particular election depending on your individual circumstances. For example, you may be going away on holiday on polling day.

Postal voting packs are not sent out immediately after you apply. They are posted two to three weeks before polling day in batches and must travel through the postal system, so if you are going away, it is important to think about whether you will still be at home when it arrives.

You can send a postal vote to an address outside the United Kingdom. However, we cannot guarantee that overseas post will arrive in time.

How to apply

You must submit an application for to be granted a postal vote. 

You can either:

  • Apply online for a postal vote (GOV.UK)
  • Contact Electoral Services to receive a hard copy form by post:
    1. Complete the application form, making sure to include your date of birth, National Insurance number and signature – these are important for security and used for comparison when you send back your postal pack
    2. Return any hard copy forms by posting it to Electoral Services, Hinckley Hub, Rugby Road, Hinckley, LE10 0FR

The deadline to apply to vote by post is always 5pm, 11 working days before polling day, but you are encouraged to apply as early as possible. You don’t have to wait for an election to be announced.

If you’re not sure when the deadline is for a particular election, you can find this on your poll card or you can contact Electoral Services.

How to vote by post

When your postal voting pack arrives, it will contain:

  • Instructions
  • A postal voting statement with a ballot paper attached
  • A ballot paper envelope (envelope A)
  • A prepaid return envelope (envelope B)

Make sure you read through the instructions thoroughly before you complete any part of the postal voting pack. It contains written instructions as well as pictures.

  1. Separate the ballot paper from the postal voting statement by tearing along the perforation
  2. Complete your ballot paper first by putting a cross in the box next to the name of the candidate (or candidates) you would like to vote for. Do not write anything else on the ballot paper
  3. Place the ballot paper into envelope A, making sure that the ballot paper number is showing through the window of the envelope. This is to protect the secrecy of your vote when the pack is opened
  4. Complete the postal voting statement. Make sure that you follow the instructions carefully, putting your date of birth and signature into the boxes provided
  5. Turn over the postal voting statement to show the return address and put this into envelope B, so that the return address shows through the window
  6. Put envelope A into envelope B and seal it
  7. Put envelope B into the post – you don’t need to use a stamp

When you are completing your postal voting statement, double-check you have filled in the statement correctly. It is very easy to put the day’s date in the box instead of your date of birth.

If your postal voting statement is completed incorrectly, your vote will not be counted. This is a legal security check to make sure that no one else has voted using your postal vote. We will match the date of birth and signature you provide against your original application.

Frequently asked questions about voting by post

How do I know if I have a postal vote?

When you get your poll card, it should tell you if you will be receiving your ballot paper by post and the address it will be posted to.

If you’re still not sure, contact Electoral Services and we will confirm whether your postal vote has been set up.

I’ve moved but I had a postal vote at my old address – do I need to apply again?

Yes - every time you move addresses you have re-register to vote, so you will need to apply to vote by post again as well.

I’m a registered British citizen living overseas – can I vote by post?

Yes, although you should think carefully about whether a postal vote is the right option for you. We can send postal voting packs outside the UK, but we cannot guarantee that you will receive your pack with enough time to return it, especially if you live outside of Europe.

If you are registered as a British citizen living overseas, you are entitled to vote by proxy on a long-term basis, so this may be a better option if you still have friends and family living in the UK.

What if I can’t provide a signature?

Although the signature is an important part of the postal voting process, there is provision for those who are unable to provide a consistent signature because of a disability or impairment.

Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to grant a signature waiver. Please contact Electoral Services using the details at the bottom of this page for advice.

Can I fill the application in electronically?

Yes, although at the moment, you cannot fill in and submit a form through a dedicated application portal.

However, if you have the appropriate software at home, you can electronically sign the application and return it by uploading it to our contact form

If you do provide an electronic signature, it is important that it is an accurate representation of the signature you make in wet ink (by hand). If not, you could risk your postal vote being rejected later.

I’m going away on holiday before my postal vote will arrive - what should I do?

The best course of action will depend on your individual circumstances, so it is best to contact Electoral Services directly for advice.

Depending on the date you are going away, you may be advised to cancel your postal vote and apply to vote by proxy temporarily. This is when you nominate someone you trust to go to your polling station and fill in your ballot paper for you. Visit voting by proxy for more information.

I haven’t received my postal voting pack

As your postal pack must travel through the postal system, there is always a risk that your ballot paper could be lost.

Your postal poll card should tell you when to expect your postal vote to arrive. If it hasn’t arrived by that date, contact Electoral Services for a replacement.

What do I do if I make a mistake on my postal vote?

If you make a mistake on the postal voting statement or the ballot paper, clearly cross out the error and fill it in again. Do not sign or initial the crossing out as this could invalidate your ballot paper.

If you do not have space to fill in the postal voting statement or ballot paper again, or it has been destroyed, contact Electoral Services for a replacement.

My plans have changed and I can get to the polling station now - should I cancel my postal vote?

Provided it is before the deadline at 5pm, 11 working days before polling day and you haven’t already returned a postal voting pack, you can cancel it.

That said, you can take a postal voting pack into any polling station in the borough-area, so it is not strictly necessary to cancel it. You can also deliver your pack to the reception at the Hinckley Hub, where there is a ballot box for you to put it in.

How do I cancel my postal vote?

If you would like to cancel your postal vote, you will need to send us a signed letter requesting the cancellation. We ask you to do this so that we can be sure that no one is trying to remove your postal vote without your consent.

Your letter should state your name, your full address and your signature clearly.

To make sure your postal vote is cancelled in time to vote in person, you will need to send in your letter by 5pm, 11 working days before polling day. 

Last updated: 10/05/2024 13:01