If you are unable to vote in person at a polling station you can contact your local Council's elections team to enquire about ABSENT VOTING - other forms of being able to vote if you are "absent" from a polling station. Absent voting takes the form of postal or proxy voting.
If you wish, you may opt to vote by post or by proxy. You can set up either of these at any time in advance of an election - you do not need to wait until an election is being held to apply.
New Postal Voting Security Arrangements
Following a change in the law, which came into force on 1 January 2007, electors who wish to vote by post for any election on or after 3 May 2007, are now required to provide their date of birth and a specimen of their signature. These will be your Personal Identifiers (PIs). Your personal identifiers will be stored securely. Each time you vote by post, you will receive a Postal Vote Statement, on which you will enter your date of birth and signature - your PIs.
Your signature and date of birth provided on the postal voting statement will be checked against your recorded identifiers, to ensure your postal vote remains secure. It is important when you submit an application to vote by post or appoint a proxy that you provide your usual signature, one that is consistent and can be recognised when you vote as a regular comparison.
If you are unable to provide a signature, or you are unable to sign in a consistent or distinctive way because of any disability, or you are unable to read or write, the registration officer, in these circumstances, may grant you an exemption, which will mean you will not be required to provide a signature. Please contact the Elections and Electoral Registration team for more information on this matter.
Failure or refusal to provide the required personal identifiers will mean your application for an absent voting arrangement will not be granted. This will not prevent you from making a fresh application in the future. If you wish to change any of your postal voting arrangements or wish to apply for an exemption, please contact the team.
Postal votes are available to anyone who wants one provided they are on the Register of Electors. You may set one up:
- On a permanent basis.
- Temporarily for a specific election, or
- For a specified period (ie whilst a student away at University).
Postal votes are normally sent out 6 working days in advance of an election being held which gives the elector ample opportunity to fill out the ballot paper and return it to the Civic Centre before the close of poll on election day.
Download a Postal Application Form - doc
A proxy vote means that you tell someone how you want to vote and they vote on your behalf. They usually vote at your polling station, but they can also apply to vote by post.
You can have a proxy vote if you aren't able to get to the polling station for one of the following reasons:
- Physical Incapacity or Blindness.
- Occupation, service, employment or attendance on a course.
- You are registered as a service voter, or
- You would need to make the journey to the polling office by sea or air.
A proxy vote can also be for an indefinite period or a definite period of time. However an application for a permanent/long term proxy vote must be witnessed.
You can also make a proxy application for a particular election if you specify the reason why you need a proxy vote, for example 'On holiday'. This does not require witnessing.
These are strict deadlines for applications for postal votes and proxy votes. For changes to existing absent vote arrangements please contact the Elections Team for details by using the contact details below.
You can download a proxy application form from the About My Vote website if you are:
- An overseas voter;
- A member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces; or
- a Crown Servant or British Council employee.
Download a Proxy Vote Application Form - doc