Voting - polling stations, postal votes, proxy votes and Armed Forces

Voting by post

Absent voting

Absent voting allows you to vote in an election if you are unable to vote in person at the polling station on the day. For example you might be on holiday or at work, or you might have a medical condition or disability which makes it difficult to attend the polling station. 

There are two types of absent voting:

  • postal voting – once a completed application has been submitted, a postal pack, which will include your ballot paper will be sent to you by post (you'll be asked to complete your postal pack and return it in time to be included in the counting of votes)
  • proxy voting – you can appoint someone you to trust to vote on your behalf (once appointed, they will vote at the polling station at which you would normally vote at)

You can apply for a postal vote on the GOV.UK website.

Apply now – postal vote

Changes you’ll see

You will have the option to apply for a postal vote via a new central government online system.

You will need to provide your National Insurance number when applying for an absent vote, whether this is an online application or paper application.

Postal voting

Postal voters must reapply to vote by post every 3 years.

Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling postal vote packs.

There will be a limit on the number of postal vote packs that a person can hand in at a polling station.

The Representation of the People (Postal Vote Handling and Secrecy) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 (

The best way to return your postal vote is to follow the instructions in the pack and post at the earliest opportunity to make sure that it is returned in time to be checked and included in the count.  Postal votes must be received by the Returning Officer by 10PM on the day of the relevant poll.

Postal votes returned to polling stations

For elections on or after 2 May 2024, there will be limits to the number of postal votes that can be handed in at a polling station and restrictions on who the individual handing in the limited number of postal votes can be for each poll taking place. An elector will be allowed to hand in their own postal vote an up to 5 from other people. However, the elector will then need to complete a form. If the form is not complete the postal votes will be rejected.  If a person seeks to hand in more than the permitted number of postal votes they will all be rejected.

Postal votes returned by hand to council offices

New legislation with effect from 2 May 2024 will change how handing in your vote works.

Read about the new changes

The limit on the number of postal votes a person can hand in, will also apply to those returned to the Returning Officer at the Council’s offices. All postal votes handed in or posted through the council letter box without the relevant paperwork being completed will be rejected. Please speak to the reception staff at the council for assistance if you are handing your postal vote in person.

Proxy votes

You will only be able to act as a proxy for up to 2 people living in the UK (or a maximum of 4 people, with 2 people living in the UK and 2 people registered as living overseas).

More about voting by post

For security, you’ll need to tell us your date of birth and sign the application. We’ll send you a postal voting statement with your ballot papers, and we check that the details are the same on your completed statement when you post it back.

Postal votes can only be issued to electors registered under Individual Electoral Register (IER).

If you register to vote by post, you won’t be able to vote at a polling station.