Postal and Proxy voting
Everything you need to know about how, where and when to vote.
If you don't register, you can't vote. It's as simple as that. For all elections you must be included on the register of electors current at the time if you wish to vote in person, by post or by proxy.
The register of electors is updated comprehensively once each year and comes into force on 1 December. You can check if your name is on the current register by calling at the district council's offices in London Road, Saffron Walden, or by contacting Electoral Services on 01799 510431 or 510432 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out about registering check the Registering to vote page. You should be aware, however, that the law imposes a cut-off date of 12 working days prior to the election after which it is not possible to register to vote at a particular election.
Voting is easy! You don't even have to go to the polling station if you don't want to. See the sections on voting by post or by proxy. However, the majority of people prefer to continue voting in person at a polling station.
Before every election (except for parish elections, unless the parish council chooses to have poll cards) we deliver poll cards to everyone registered and entitled to vote. These tell you the date of the election, what the election is, what the voting hours are and where your polling station is located. There's also advice on the way to vote.
Put simply, you report on arrival to the staff at the station and show them your poll card or tell them your name and address. They will check that you are registered and mark you off on their register. They'll also give you a ballot paper (your vote). You take it to one of the voting booths and mark it in secret. You then put it in the ballot box at the station and leave. That's all there is to it!
If you lose your poll card, or one fails to be delivered for any reason, that's not a problem. You don't need it to vote so long as you are registered. Just go to your polling station and give your address. The staff will check you are registered and, if so, issue you with your vote.
In some circumstances you could be formally appointed, prior to polling day, to also vote on someone else's behalf. See the section on proxy voting.
There may be people appointed by the candidates located outside the polling station. They are called 'tellers'. They are not appointed by the returning officer. They should not approach you for your voting number until you have voted and are leaving the polling station. You are not compelled to give this information if you do not wish to.
Anyone whose name appears on the register of electors can apply to vote by post. No special qualifications or requirements are necessary. If you want to vote by post at any or all elections you can apply to do so. Please note, however, that, once an election timetable starts to run, there is a legal closing date for postal vote applications and the returning officer cannot accept any late ones. This is always 5pm, 11 working days before an election.
One-off postal voting
Provided you are registered, you can apply for a postal vote for a specific election by filling in an application form. Applications can be made at any time of the year up to the closing date and you should apply as soon as you know you cannot get to the polling station on polling day.
Postal voting for a set period
You can arrange to vote by post for a set period, e.g. a year. For example, university students can apply for a postal vote so they can vote in their home area. You will then automatically be able to vote by post at any election during this set period.
Permanent postal vote
You can apply for a postal vote to last for as long as you like. To end this arrangement simply let us know in writing.
If you elect to vote by post, you cannot then go in person to the polling station to vote. You can however, hand your postal vote into the polling station if you have not posted it back to us. This must be either the polling station at which you would otherwise vote, or a polling station within the same electoral area.
Please note that if you move house your postal vote will cease when you are removed from the register at the address at which you were living when the postal vote was granted. You will need to apply for a new one when re-registering at a new address even if this continues to be within the district.
Because of concerns about fraudulent practices related to postal voting in some areas at previous elections the Government introduced some new requirements in the Electoral Administration Act 2006. It is therefore necessary, when applying for a postal vote, to provide your date of birth and a specimen signature (known as personal identifiers). If you are unable to supply a signature please contact electoral services at the council for further advice.
You will be required to provide these again when sending in your postal vote and the identifiers will have to be renewed after five years. The two sets of identifiers will be compared when the postal votes are opened to ensure that they match. If they don't, the returning officer will reject the vote.
Proxy voting is where you appoint someone to go to the polling station and vote on your behalf. Your proxy is then intended to vote in the way you direct. Unlike postal voting, proxy voting other than for one election is restricted to certain categories of people.
Proxy vote application forms
You can appoint a proxy for an indefinite or a specified period if:
- You suffer from blindness or another disability; or
- Your employment or attendance on an educational course prevents you from voting in person at the polling station; or
- You are entitled to register as a service or overseas elector, or as an anonymous elector.
You can appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf for a specific election provided you explain why you are unable to go there in person. However if you wish to set up a longer-term proxy arrangement such applications have to be signed by an authorised person, e.g. a doctor, a registered nurse, social worker, warden or head of a residential/nursing home or a person authorised to sign on behalf of your employer or educational facility.
Applications have to be returned to the Electoral Registration Officer, Uttlesford District Council, London Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4ER, by the statutory closing date for such applications.
It's possible to appoint someone to vote for you by post. Such a person is called a postal proxy. The circumstances in which you can do so are as set out above. Applications must be made by 5pm, 11 working days before polling day.
If your application for a proxy vote is accepted, you can still vote in person at your polling station as long as you do so before your proxy votes for you. However if you appoint someone as a proxy to vote by post for you then you cannot vote in person.