Postal vote registration deadline simply days away as voters urged to use

With the general election now just over three weeks away, there’s only a few days left to register for a postal vote if you haven’t done so already.

If you’re on holiday or away from home on July 4 – or your work schedule will make it tricky for you to visit your nearest polling station between 7am and 10pm on the day – the easiest way to cast your vote is to send it in early via a postal vote.

It comes as the Electoral Reform Society warns millions of people are at risk of losing their ability to vote because they’re not properly registered.

Just 1.1 million applications to register to vote have been made since the election was called, according to the society, while last year up to eight million people were found to not be registered or were registered incorrectly, the Electoral Commission said.

When is the deadline to register for a postal vote?

People in England, Wales and Scotland have until 5pm on Wednesday June 19 to apply for a postal vote in the Parliamentary general election – and it’s the same for British voters who are overseas. Those living in Northern Ireland, however, have less time to organise their postal vote, as they must apply by Friday June 14 – and they can only do so by post (others can apply online – see below for details).

If your application arrives to your local Electoral Registration Office after 5pm on June 19, you run the risk of not being permitted to vote this year.

No matter where you’re based, you must also be registered to vote by 11.59pm on Tuesday June 18 .

How to register for a postal vote

You can apply online through the site to vote by post – the process should take around five minutes and you’ll need your National Insurance number. You can also apply using physical paper forms for a postal vote by post.

Under new election rules, all voters must prove their identity, and this applies even when you’re requesting a postal vote. When you apply, you’ll have the option of requesting a postal vote just for this election, a specific period (if you live in England, Wales or Scotland) or for three years. Every three years you’ll need to reapply for a postal vote, and if you have a long-term postal vote predating October 31 2023, this will expire on January 31 2026.

You do not need to register to vote before every election, but if you’ve moved house you’ll need to register again. And if you’ve changed your name for any reason, you can either request a change of name form via the electoral services team at your local council, or register to vote again.

When should I send in my postal vote?

Postal votes are counted at Selby Leisure Centre in the Selby and Ainsty by-election

Postal votes must be received by 10pm on polling day
Getty Images)

Your completed ballot paper must be received by your local Electoral Registration Office by 10pm on election day – any later than this and it won’t be counted. Postal voters are encouraged to post back their ballot as soon as possible, sealing the envelope themselves and dropping it into a Royal Mail postbox – or asking someone they trust to post it on their behalf.

If for any reason you’re unable to post your ballot, or are worried about missing the deadline by mailing it in, you can also visit your nearest polling station in person to hand in your ballot by 10pm on election day, or take it to the Electoral Registration Office before it closes. You must hand it in to a member of staff at the polling station or Electoral Registration Office and complete a form – don’t post it through their letterbox.

What is a proxy vote and how does it work?

In special circumstances, you may be able to ask a trusted person to cast a vote on your behalf in what’s known as a proxy vote. This is for people who are away from home on polling day, have a medical issue or disability that makes it harder for them to reach a polling station, are registered as an overseas voter or are unable to vote in person because of their work or military service.

You can apply online for a proxy vote or by post, as long as your application is with your local Electoral Registration Office by 5pm on June 26 .

Your proxy must be eligible and registered to vote, allowed to vote in the type of election being held, and can vote in the polling station on your poll card. You must tell your proxy the candidate you want to vote for and they will have to show their own identification in person.

You may also be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote if circumstances mean you’re unable to vote on the day – for example, your photo ID has been lost or damaged, or you suffer a medical emergency. In England, Wales and Scotland you have until 5pm on election day to apply – fill in the relevant paper form on the site and sent it to your local Electoral Registration Office.

How to register for free voter ID

Voters in England need to show photo ID to vote in certain elections, under recent legislation. But if you don’t have a passport, driving licence or similar, you can apply for free voter ID via the website. The deadline to apply is Wednesday June 26 at 5pm.