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Absent voting

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If you are unable to get to a polling station either for a single election/referendum or on a long term basis you can apply for an absent vote. You have a choice between:

  • Postal voting - your ballot paper is sent to you by post before polling day
  • Proxy voting  - you appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf

You can apply for either of these at any time however there are deadlines for applications before elections.

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 Registration 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.

Postal Voting

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 send it back 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

To apply for a postal vote you will need to complete and return the application form below:

If you are unable to download one you can telephone the Electoral Services helpline to request a form. You are required 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.

Any registered elector can apply to vote by post and you do not need to tell us a reason why you won’t be going to the polling station to vote. 

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 Grafton House up to 10pm on the day of the elections.  Postal votes received after this time will not be able to be counted.

Proxy Voting

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 act as 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 abroad 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

There are two types of proxy vote you can apply for: a proxy vote for a particular election or a long term proxy vote.

If you are unable to download a form you can telephone the Electoral Services helpline to request a form.

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).

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Contact Details

Ipswich Borough Council,
Electoral Services,
3E Grafton House,
15-17 Russell Road,
Ipswich,
IP1 2DE

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01473 432533