Postal and proxy votes

If you are unable to attend the polling station for any reason, you may wish to apply for a postal or proxy vote.

A postal vote is where your vote is sent to you before polling day and a proxy vote is where you ask another person to vote on your behalf.

To apply for a postal or proxy vote you need to be registered to vote. You can register to vote online. If you are not sure if you are registered, you can contact our Electoral Services team to check.

Postal vote rules

You can apply for a postal vote as long as you are on the electoral register

  • You can apply for just one election, for a specific time period, or for a permanent postal vote.
  • An application form must be completed by the person applying for a postal vote.

The rules for returning postal vote packs by hand have changed due to the Elections Act 2022

New provisions from the Elections Act 2022 relating to handling absent votes and the secrecy of absent votes are due to take effect in time for the May 2024 Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. The provisions restrict who can handle postal votes, how many postal votes can be handed in at polling stations and other venues and set out a process for handing in postal votes.

Who can’t handle postal votes?

Political campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes, except where the postal vote is their own or that of a close family member or someone they provide care for. Postal workers or others who handle postal votes as part of their usual duties are also exempt.

What are the new limits for handing in postal votes?

People who are not political campaigners can still hand in postal votes at polling stations or into council buildings.  However, they will now be limited to handing in no more than five postal votes for other electors, plus their own postal vote per election.

People handing in postal votes will also have to complete a ‘return of postal voting documents’ form, which includes some personal information (name and address) and will also need to complete a declaration.

What happens if someone doesn’t follow the rules?

Postal votes may be rejected if people don’t follow the rules when handing in postal votes. This means they will not be counted in the election, but electors whose postal votes are rejected will be informed in writing that their vote has been rejected and why following the election.

The postal votes will be rejected if:

  • Too many postal votes are handed in
  • There is reason to suspect a person has already handed in the maximum number of postal votes at the election.
  • The postal votes are handed in or left without a completed form.

What should postal voters do then?

The best advice is to post postal votes in a Royal Mail postbox as soon as possible. If you hand in a postal vote in person, you should make sure to hand it in at the council offices to an authorised person between 9am - 5pm or at a polling station on 2 May 2024.

What’s changing about secrecy requirements?

Voters at polling stations are protected by secrecy requirements set out in Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. This states that no member of electoral staff or a person supporting a voter may communicate information about the candidate the voter voted for. It is an offence to try to find out how someone has voted in a polling station and to photograph ballot papers in polling stations. The Elections Act 2022 extended these requirements to apply to postal and proxy votes as well as votes cast in polling stations.

What happens if someone breaches these new rules?

Anyone found guilty of breaching these secrecy requirements could face a fine or imprisonment for up to six months.

Proxy vote rules

You can ask either a member of your family or a friend/colleague to act as your proxy. You must ask them first and make sure that they can get to your polling station to vote on your behalf. If the person you appoint does not live in the area, they will have to apply to be a postal proxy. In doing this your vote will be posted to them. Each applicant must fill in a form and, where possible, get your proxy to also sign the form accepting the appointment.


You can apply for a proxy vote as long as you are on the electoral register. When you apply for a proxy vote you have to provide a reason. You can apply for a proxy vote if:

  • You are unable to go to the polling station for one particular election, for example, if you are away on holiday
  • You have a physical condition that means you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • Your employment means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • Your attendance on an educational course means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
  • You are a crown servant or a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces
  • You are a British citizen living overseas
  • Proxy vote forms must be received 6 working days before an election.
Medical emergency and employment proxy vote rules

You may be able to apply for an emergency proxy on the grounds of a medical emergency or being taken away from home by your work.

You can only apply if you become aware of the fact after 5pm, six working days before polling day. 

The closing date for emergency proxy applications is 5pm on polling day.

Apply for a postal vote

The best way to apply for a postal vote is online, however paper applications are available from our Customer Services team by calling 01664 502 502. 

To apply for a postal vote you now need ID verification. This is a new requirement and you can find out more about the changes to postal votes on the Electoral Commission website.

The postal vote will be in place for a maximum of 3 years. After 3 years you will be required to make a new application to continue voting by post.

Apply for a postal vote

Postal voter signature refresh

You can have a postal vote in force for a maximum period of three years. If you wish to remain as a postal voter after this time you will need to make a new application.  The Electoral Services Department will notify you when your current postal vote is due to expire and tell you how to apply for a new postal vote.

Apply for a Proxy vote

The best way to apply for a postal vote is online, however paper applications are available from our Customer Services team by calling 01664 502 502. 

Apply for a proxy vote

Cancelling a postal or proxy vote

You must cancel your postal or proxy vote in writing. You must send a signed letter to confirm that you want to cancel your postal vote, either by email (as a scanned attachment) or by post.


Postal address: Electoral Services, Melton Borough Council, Parkside, Station Approach, Burton Street, Melton Mowbray, LE13 1GH

Changing a postal or proxy vote

If you wish to change from a postal vote to a proxy vote or a proxy vote to a postal vote, you must complete a new postal/proxy application form.

Last updated 3 July 2024
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