How to vote

Absent vote signature refresh

Under the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001, electoral registration officers must, by 31 January each year, send every person who has an absent vote and whose signature has been held for more than five years a notice requiring them to provide a fresh signature if they wish to remain an absent voter. This applies to postal voters, electors who have appointed a proxy and postal proxies.

Legislation further states that absent voters have six weeks from the date the notice is sent to return the completed and signed notice to the electoral registration officers. If the deadline is missed, the absent vote will be removed and a letter will be sent to the elector informing them of this action.

Anyone whose absent vote is removed and who wishes to vote by post in the future will have to complete a new absent vote application.

Absent voters who have a special arrangement are not affected by the refresh provisions as a signature is not held for them.

If you receive a postal vote refresh form, please ensure that you return it to us as soon as possible to avoid getting a reminder.

Changes to your details?

If your name, address, the address for your postal ballot papers or the details of your proxy have changed, please amend the relevant details on the form. Please then sign the form and provide your date of birth before sending it back to us in the prepaid envelope provided. In some cases, we may need to send you an additional form to complete. If you have any questions about the signature refresh exercise, please contact us.

Problems completing the form?

If you have a disability/illness which means that you either cannot provide a signature or sign in a consistent and distinctive way, please indicate this on the form and return it to the Elections Office. The Electoral Registration Officer may grant you a 'waiver' of the requirement to provide a signature, subject to an additional form being witnessed on your behalf.  

No longer require your absent vote arrangement?

If you no longer want to vote by post/proxy you must tell us by ticking the relevant box on the form, signing the form and then returning it to us as soon as possible so that we can cancel your arrangement and avoid any unnecessary reminders. We will contact you in writing to confirm that your arrangement has been cancelled. 

What will happen if I do not return the form?

If you do not return the signature refresh form by the deadline, your existing absent vote facility will be cancelled and you will have to vote in person or make a new application.

I have a postal/proxy vote arrangement but I haven't received a refresh form

The signature refresh exercise will happen every year, but we will only send refresh forms to those voters who applied over 5 years ago. You will not need to provide a refresh of your identifiers until 5 years has passed since your original application. You will only need to update your record when you receive correspondence from us

More information

  1. How to vote
  2. Absent vote signature refresh (you are here)