If you're over 18 and have registered to vote, you can apply for a postal vote.
You may find it easier to vote this way if you have difficulty getting to the polling station on election day, or work away from home.
How to apply for a postal vote
It's never too early to apply for a postal vote for the forthcoming elections. To apply you need to fill in a postal vote application form and send it to the council's electoral registration team.
Apply to vote by post
You'll need to give your date of birth and signature on the application form, and again when you use your postal vote. This helps to make sure your vote is secure. If you can supply a telephone number or email address this may help if we need to contact you quickly regarding your postal vote.
Any new postal vote application form must be received by the electoral team no later than 5pm, 11 working days before an election. Applications for a one-off election (eg a snap General Election) can only be submitted once the election has been 'officially' announced.
When you want to vote
Once you've decided who you want 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 election day by 10pm.
If you don't receive your postal vote by election day, contact the electoral team for a replacement. You must do this before 5pm. You won't be issued a new ballot paper at a polling station. The first day to issue replacement postal ballot packs for lost or spoilt postal packs is 5 working days before the election day.
When you return your postal vote
If you can, post it yourself. If you can't do that, give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you, or ring us to see if someone can collect it from you.
If you miss the post, you can hand deliver your postal ballot pack to Mercury House, or one of our community offices (during office hours) or at a polling station.
- Hand it to a candidate or party worker
- Leave it where someone else can pick it up
If anyone tries to help you against your will, or forces you to give them your postal vote, you should contact the police.
Proxy voting by post
A proxy who is unable to attend the allocated polling station can apply to vote by post. Both the proxy application and the postal proxy application must be completed.
- An application for a proxy vote - for details visit our apply for a proxy vote page
- Visit The Electoral Commission website to apply to vote by proxy
- Postal proxy voting applications must be received by the electoral team no later than 5pm, 11 working days before an election
- The postal ballot packs will then be sent to the proxy between five and eight working days for you to complete and return by close of poll on election day
Postal voting fraud
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
- 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
- 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 dates of birth on postal vote statements and original applications will be cross-checked
What you can do
- Let us know if your postal voting pack doesn't arrive
- Keep your voting pack in a safe place if you're 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 - always 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 don't come to collect postal votes.
Updating absent votes
People who vote by post or proxy, known as absent voters, have to provide a signature and their date of birth when they first apply for an absent vote.
At election time, ballot papers are posted to absent voters, together with a postal vote statement. In order to vote, each absent voter must 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 they match. This is to prevent electoral fraud.
You must provide an updated signature every five years, as signatures can change over time.
Each January, we write to all absent voters whose signatures are more than five years old, asking that they complete an application form and provide a fresh signature.
If we don't 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.