How you can get someone else to cast your ballot if you won’t be there

Missed the deadline to apply for a postal vote? Going to be at the other end of the country? Stuck in work on polling day and think you might not make it to vote? A proxy vote is for you.

The way a proxy vote works is simple, you get someone else to go to your polling station for you to cast your vote.

The upcoming general election will be on Thursday 12 December, and polling stations are open 7AM to 10PM — if you can’t make this time period, take action now so you don’t lose your vote.

Who can be my proxy?

Anyone you trust can be your proxy, don’t be confused by “A person can only be a proxy for close relatives and up to two other people at an election or referendum.” This means that, whilst someone can be a proxy for an unlimited number of your close relatives (e.g. parents, siblings, spouse, etc.), they can also be a proxy for up to two other people.

So, your Mum could theoretically vote for you, your three siblings, her civil partner, and two of her friends.

According to the government: “You can ask anyone to act as your proxy, as long as they are registered to vote and it’s for a type of election they’re allowed to vote in. You can be a proxy for 2 people at the same election, or more if the extra people are close relatives.”

How do I do it?

You must apply by 5PM on Wednesday 4 December to vote by proxy in the General Election in England, Scotland or Wales.

There are different forms for different reasons here, but if you just want a proxy vote for this election, download a simpler application form here on the government’s website. Many councils will require you to post the form to your local Electoral Registration Office, which can be found very quickly using the government’s simple postcode tool.

Some councils will even let you email the form to them, many councils list their e-mail address and phone number on the same page, so drop them a line to ask using the same postcode tool.  

Printing the form

UWE has free black and white printing for all students, and many other local libraries have access to printers. UWE’s librarians will be happy to assist you if you have any trouble. According to UWE’s website: “All UWE Bristol libraries have printers, photocopiers and scanners. To find them look at the floor plans posted in each library or ask a librarian.”

Sending the form off by post

Red British postbox with "GR" royal cypher
Photo: Kutan Ural / Unsplash

Send the form to the address listed by your local council, found using the postcode tool linked above. UWE has a post box on Frenchay Campus outside the F Block shop, or a post office inside PrintWorks on the fourth floor of the library, where you can buy postage or send prepaid mail, open Monday to Friday between 10AM and 4PM.

Stamps can be bought online 24/7 using PayPal or a card, and then printed (free at UWE), just list the weight as 100g and choose “Letter”. Stamps can also be bought at many shops and supermarkets, including The Students’ Union shops. A first-class stamp is 70p and aims to deliver one day after it is collected from the post box, or a second-class stamp, at 61p, aims to deliver within two to three days after collection.

The form must arrive at the electoral registration office by 5PM on Wednesday 4 December, whether the post was delayed or not. So, make sure you send it with plenty of time — it might be worth the extra 9p.

Scanning the form and sending by email

If your local council allows you to scan and email the form, you can use scanners on UWE’s campuses for free. Many other local libraries also have access to scanners. Make sure you send it to arrive before the deadline. If you think you might miss the deadline and don’t know if your council accepts it by email, it could be worth a shot to email it anyway – you have nothing to lose.

Missed the deadline?

If you become aware of a “medical or employment emergency after the deadline”, then you can apply for an emergency proxy vote by 5pm on the day of the vote. Go to your local council’s website, or contact them directly by phone as soon as possible, for more details.

Featured photo: Steve Houghton-Burnett / Unsplash

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