Voting by post
For the elections on Thursday 2 May 2024, you will need to apply to vote by post by 5pm on Wednesday 17 April 2024.
Voting by post means that your postal vote pack is sent to your home address. You can complete your ballot paper and postal vote statement in your own home and send them back to us through the post using the pre-paid return envelope provided, or by handing it in at a polling station by 10pm on election day.
You can apply for a postal vote at any time of the year but you need to apply for a postal vote by 5pm on the 11th working day before the election you want to vote in.
If you ask for your postal vote to be sent to an address which is not the one where you are registered to vote, you will have to give us a reason for the change on the application form. For example, this may be that you are registered to vote in Southend-on-Sea but may be caring for a relative in another part of the country.
Your postal vote must be received by us before 10pm on election day for it to be counted.
Please bear this in mind when returning your postal vote as any postal delays are beyond our control. If you did not post the pack back in time you can always deliver it by hand to any polling station within the city or at our offices at the Civic Centre by 10pm.
Apply for a postal vote
The way you apply for a postal vote has changed.
You can now apply online if you want to vote by post. You will need to provide your National Insurance number as part of your application.
You can apply to have a postal vote for a one-off election, a fixed period or for a maximum of 3 years (at the end of the 3 years you will need to re-apply).
Make sure you complete all sections of the form and supply your date of birth, National Insurance number, and signature.
If you are not able to supply a consistent signature, you can still apply for a postal vote. Please contact electoral services office on 01702 215010.
If you need help applying to vote by post or you would like us to send you a paper application form through the post, please contact email@example.com or 01702215010.
How to complete your postal vote
How do I vote by post?
Once your postal vote application is successful, your postal vote pack should be sent out to you about 14 working days before polling day in a special envelope with instructions on how to complete your ballot paper.
Inside will be instructions on how to complete your postal voting pack, along with your postal voting statement, your ballot paper, a brown envelope marked with an 'A' and a white pre-paid return envelope, marked with a 'B'.
- take your postal voting statement, fill in your date of birth and sign inside the signature box (unless you have a waiver). Please take care when completing your postal vote statement. If you make a mistake, such as forgetting to sign your name (unless you have been granted a waiver), or you provide an incorrect date of birth, we won't be able to process your postal vote
- read the instructions and complete your ballot paper by making a clear mark in the box next to the candidate of your choice
- put the completed ballot paper into the brown envelope marked 'A' so that the ballot paper number if visible through the window, and then seal this envelope
- place the brown envelope 'A' and the postal voting statement into the white return envelope marked 'B' and check that the Returning Officer's address is showing in the window
- seal envelope 'B' and put it in the post. You do not need a stamp if you are posting in the UK, as this is a pre-paid return envelope
- return it to us by 10pm on polling day. If you don't post it in time, you can deliver it by hand to any polling station or our office at the Civic Centre
If you haven't received your postal vote pack by four working days before the election, contact us straight away and not later than 5pm on election day.
I've lost or made a mistake on my postal vote ballot paper, what should I do?
If you have lost, made a mistake or damaged your postal vote ballot paper you can ask for a replacement.
If you do need a replacement postal ballot paper pack due to it being badly damaged, you will need to bring the original one to our office, so do not throw it away.
Contact the elections team on 01702 215010 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) to request a replacement postal pack.
Please bear in mind that postal replacements are sent by Royal Mail, and we cannot guarantee that there will not be any postal delays beyond our control. If you want to be sure you receive your replacement pack in plenty of time, if you are able to you might want to collect your replacement papers in person from the Civic Centre.
I've made a mistake on my paper
If you have made a mistake on your postal vote statement, for example putting today's date instead of your date of birth on the postal vote statement, please cross out the mistake and enter the correct date of birth below the error. We will manually verify the information provided against the data held on the Electoral Register. If this mistake is not corrected this can lead to your postal vote being rejected.
We will manually verify the information provided on your postal vote statement against the details you provided in your postal vote application form. This is to ensure that no one else can use your postal vote. If this mistake is not corrected, we will not be able to process your postal vote.
My envelopes are in a muddle
We appreciate that sometimes your postal pack may be confusing with multiple envelopes labelled A and B. There will be clear instructions that explain what paper goes in which envelope; but don't worry if you make a mistake. As long as your ballot paper and statement are returned to us safely in one of the envelopes provided.
I have my postal vote but I have now changed my mind and want to vote in person, can I cancel my postal vote?
Requests to cancel or change an existing application (for example to request a ballot paper to be sent to a different address) must reach us by 5pm, 11 working days before an election to be actioned for that election.