How to Vote
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Voting in person
Most people choose to vote in person at their designated polling station.
The polling station is open from 7am to 10pm on polling day so you can cast your vote at a time convenient to you.
Your poll card gives the name and address of your polling station and there will be clear signs displayed when you get there.
You can only vote at your designated polling station as the staff there will have the correct electoral register and ballot papers for you to vote.
At the polling station simply give your name and address to the staff and they will issue you with your ballot paper or papers.
You don't have to take your poll card with you to vote, however it can speed up the process if you do take it.
We make every effort to ensure that our polling stations are fully accessible, however if you would like to check access at your particular polling station or if you need additional assistance please contact the Electoral Services Team.
Voting by post
A postal vote is when your ballot paper is sent to you by post before polling day.
Instead of going to the polling station and completing the ballot paper, the ballot paper is sent direct to an address of your choice.
Once you have completed the ballot paper and filled in the necessary paperwork you can then return it in the envelope provided or deliver it to the polling station on Election Day.
It must reach the Returning Officer by 10pm on the day of the poll.
How to apply for a postal vote
You need to provide your date of birth and signature on the form - these are later compared with the signature and date of birth you submit with your ballot papers to ensure that they have been completed by the correct person, but do not identify how you have cast your vote.
If you are unable to provide a signature for any reason you should indicate this on the form as you may be eligible for a signature waiver.
Please provide details of anyone who assists you in completing the form. It is not possible for someone else to apply for a postal vote on your behalf or to sign the form on your behalf.
The form also asks you to specify how long you wish to vote by post.
You can apply for a postal vote at any time during the year, however there is a deadline by which postal vote applications must be received in advance of an election.
Delivery of postal vote packs
Postal voting packs are sent out around 1-2 weeks before an election.
The expected date of delivery will be included on your postal poll card and we are not able to send individual packs out early.
If you will be going away before or very close to the date of delivery and will still be away on election day then you may want to consider a proxy vote or depending on timings your postal vote may be able to be sent to another address.
If you will be back by election day then it is still possible for you to complete your postal vote and hand it in to your usual polling station or the Council Offices up to 10pm on polling day.
Postal votes received after this time will not be able to be counted.
Personal Identifier Refresh for absent voters
The Electoral Registration Officer is legally required to ask voters who have had an absent vote for more than five years to confirm their date of birth and provide an up-to-date signature.
This information will then be used to replace the voter's original absent vote application form.
Every year, during January, a Personal Identifier Refresh form will be sent to every elector whose original postal or proxy voting application is more than five years old.
This form should be returned to the Electoral Services Team by the specified deadline to ensure that your absent voting arrangements remain in place.
If you do not return the form by the deadline you will be sent a reminder notice.
If you do not reply to the reminder, we are required by law to cancel your absent vote and you will have to vote in person at your allocated polling station.
You can also use the form to cancel your postal or proxy vote if you no longer require it.
Voting by proxy
A proxy vote enables an elector to appoint someone they trust to vote on their behalf.
The appointed person can choose whether to vote in person at the Polling Station or by post.
Anyone can be a proxy voter, as long as they are eligible to vote in the election and are willing to vote on your behalf.
You cannot be a proxy for more than two people at any one election, unless they are a close relative.
Advantages of voting by proxy
Voting by proxy can make it easier for people to vote. For example it is useful for:
- People who are unable to get to the polling station to vote
- People who want to vote but who know that they are going to be away on Election Day
- People who have fallen ill and are unable to get to the polling station
- People who are overseas in a country that is too far away to send back a postal vote in time for the election, for example if you are in the Armed Forces or deployed abroad
How to apply
If you are unable to provide your signature for any reason you should indicate this on the form as you may be eligible for a signature waiver. Please also provide details of anyone who assists you in completing the form. It is not possible for someone else to apply for a proxy vote on your behalf.
You can apply for a proxy vote at any time during the year; however there is a deadline by which proxy vote applications must be received in advance of an election which is normally six working days before Election Day. However an application for an emergency proxy can be made six days or less before Election day under the following circumstances:
- In the case of a medical condition, illness or disability arising after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications (i.e. 5pm on the sixth working day before the poll)
- If the person is a mental health patient detained under civil powers (i.e. who are not detained offenders)
- If a person’s occupation, service or employment means they cannot go to the polling station in person and they became aware of this fact after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications (i.e. 5pm on the sixth working day before the poll).