Not sure if you’ll be able to vote in person? Remember to get a postal or proxy vote


Deadline to apply for postal votes for May 2019 local elections across much of England: 5pm, Monday 15 April

Deadline to apply for proxy votes for May 2019 local elections across much of England: 5pm, Wednesday 24 April

If you are not able to vote in person at your local polling station in an election, you can instead apply for either:

  • A postal vote – ballot papers are posted out in advance of the election and need to be returned by the usual close of polls time on polling day. Ballots can be posted overseas, but depending on the postal systems, there may not be enough time for them to go out and back.
  • A proxy vote – this means appointing someone to vote on your behalf. That is particularly useful if you are overseas, but people in the UK can go for this option too.

The postal vote form is pretty simple save for one gotcha. You can get the form online, but you have to print it off and return it to your local council. (Your local council can also provide you with a printed version of the form if you don’t have access to a printer yourself.) Make sure you allow enough time for that.

Applying for a proxy vote is a little more complicated as, quite rightly, there are careful safeguards around someone being appointed to vote for someone else. It’s still much easier than many official forms, however. Again, you can get the right form online but have to return it to your local council. Watch out also for the number of different types of proxy vote forms – be sure to select the right one from the list.

There is also a special late deadline for people who fall ill at the last moment. You can apply up to 5pm on polling day itself to appoint someone to vote for you in such circumstances. Watch out though Рthe paperwork needs to be filled in, returned, processed and then your appointee vote all before the polls close. That can be rather a rush, although in my experience local councils are very good at being helpful with smoothing this along.

If you are appointed a proxy for someone, you in turn then can apply for a postal vote to cast that proxy vote by post. Useful if, say, a relative at the other end of the country wants to trust you to cast their vote for them.

To get a postal or proxy vote, you also first need to be on the electoral register.

And if you’re a Liberal Democrat, take a look at Why we should encourage Lib Dems to sign up for postal votes.

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