If you are over 18 years and have registered to vote you can apply for a postal vote. You do not need a reason to vote by post, however you may find it easier to vote by post if you have difficulty getting to the polling station on the day of an election, or work away from home.
How can I apply for a postal vote?
You will need to give your date of birth and signature on the application form, and again when you use your postal vote. This helps to ensure the security of your vote and is used to tackle electoral fraud.
A postal vote can be sent to your home address, or to any other address that you give. Postal votes can be sent overseas, but you need to consider whether there will be enough time to receive and return your postal vote by election day.
Any new postal vote application form must be completed and returned to the office no later than 5pm, 11 working days before an election.
- A signature waiver only applies to someone who is unable to give a consistent signature due to illness eg. stroke or broken wrist etc. It does not apply if the person is away and unable to sign the form.
- Should you complete a new postal vote application, this will supersede any you have completed previously. If you are unsure whether you are already registered to vote by post, please contact the Electoral Team.
When will I receive my postal vote?
Postal votes are usually sent out about a week before election day. When you receive your postal vote put the paperwork somewhere safe, don't let anyone else handle your voting papers, and make sure they are not left where someone else can pick them up.
When you want to vote
Once you have decided who you wish to vote for:
- complete the ballot paper on your own
- don't let anyone else vote for you
- don't let anyone else see your vote
- don't give the ballot paper to anyone else
- put the ballot paper in the smaller envelope and seal it up yourself
- complete and sign the postal voting statement
- put the postal voting statement and the smaller envelope containing your ballot paper into the larger envelope and seal it
Postal votes should be returned by close of poll on the day of an election (usually 10pm). If it arrives later than this your vote won't be counted.
If you not not receive your postal vote by the date of an election, you should contact the Electoral Team for a replacement - you must do this before 5pm on election day. You will not be issued a new ballot paper at a polling station.
When you return your postal vote
If you can, take your postal vote to the post box yourself. If you are unable to do that, either give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you, or ring us to see if someone can collect if from you.
If you miss the post you may hand deliver your postal ballet pack to Mercury House, one of the Council's Community Offices or at a polling station within the District.
DON'T hand it to a candidate or party worker.
DON'T leave it where someone else can pick it up.
If any tries to help you against your will, or force you to give them your postal vote, you should contact the Police.
Remember that this is your vote - so keep it to yourself!
Proxy Voting by Post (Postal Proxy)
A proxy who is unable to attend the allocated polling statement can apply to vote by post. Both the proxy application and the postal proxy application must be completed.
- An application for a postal proxy can be downloaded by clicking here.
- Postal Proxy Voting applications must be received by the Electoral Team no later than 5pm on the date specified for that election. (At election time see the Election Timetable for details).
- The postal ballet packs will then be sent to the proxy between 5 to 8 working days for you to complete and return by close of poll on election day.
NB. A signature waiver only applies to someone who is unable to give a consistent signature due to illness eg. stroke or broken wrist etc. It does not apply if the person is away and unable to sign the form.
What about postal voting fraud?
Some people are worried about postal voting fraud. We take these concerns very seriously. However, we must stress that there has never been any evidence of organised postal voting fraud in Richmondshire. Here are some safeguards we have in place:
- Every request for a postal vote is checked against our computer records of electors. You cannot get a postal vote unless you are on the Voters List. You can only get one postal voting pack at an election, even if you send in more than one application.
- A request for a postal vote is turned down if the application form is not signed or if a date of birth is not provided. You also have to sign any request to cancel or change your postal vote.
- We write back to everyone who arranges a postal vote.
- The provision of a signature and date of birth, is there to prevent fraud.
- Signatures and date of births on postal vote statements and original applications will be cross-checked.
What you can do?
- Let us know if your postal voting pack does not arrive.
- Keep your voting pack in a safe place if you are not voting straight away.
- When you vote, keep it secret.
- If you can, post it back yourself.
- Don't give your pack to someone else unless you trust them.
- If you decide not to vote, never give your pack to someone else - dispose of your pack safely.
- Tell us if you move, so your postal voting details can be kept up to date.
The Returning Officer's staff do not come to collect postal votes.
Absent Vote Refresh
Absent voters (people who vote by post or proxy) are required to provide a signature and their date of birth when they first apply for an absent vote. These are known as 'personal identifiers'.
At election time, ballot papers are posted out to absent voters, together with a postal vote statement. In order to vote, each absent voter must be complete and return the postal vote statement by providing their signature and date of birth, along with their completed ballot paper. The signature and date of birth are then checked against the signature and date of birth provided on the original application to ensure that they match. This it to prevent electoral fraud.
You must provide an updated signature every five years, as signatures can change over time.
Each January, we are legally required to write to all absent voters whose signatures are more than five years old. requesting that they complete an application form and provide a fresh signature.
If we do not receive a response after six weeks your postal/proxy vote will be cancelled. You will still be able to vote in person at a polling station, or you can request to vote by postal/proxy vote again.