Emergency proxy and taking postal votes to polling stations, what you need to know

When is the deadline for postal votes, and what should you do if an emergency means you can't vote in person?

The polls will be open between 7am and 10pm on Thursday. (PA)
The polls will be open between 7am and 10pm on Thursday. (PA)

Reports of delays to postal vote deliveries has blighted the final stretch of campaigning ahead of the general election on 4 July.

The postal affairs minister Kevin Hollinrake said it was “not acceptable” that ballot packs were piling up in sorting offices and that the Royal Mail needed to employ more staff.

However, a spokesman for the Royal Mail insisted that there was “no backlog” and that ballot packs which reached them on time would be delivered before polling day.

Ahead of Thursday’s poll, here is what you need to know about postal votes and voting by emergency proxy.

Vijay Rangarajan, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said about 6.7 million postal votes had already been sent.

He said the last batches should have been delivered to people on Monday and Tuesday, but added if voters are already abroad then “there’s very little” that can be done.

In order to be counted, completed postal votes will need to have reached councils by 10pm on Thursday - when the polls close - so they should be posted as soon as possible if not done so already.

But if the postal vote can’t be posted on time, it can still be taken to your designated polling station on Thursday.

Votes cast by post in UK general elections. (PA)
Votes cast by post in UK general elections. (PA)

People may also be able to hand it in to their local council office, but they should first confirm this with their local Electoral Registration Officer.

Anyone handing in a postal vote in person will need to complete a form providing their name and address, how many postal votes they are handing in and the reason why they are being handed in.

Once a postal vote has been submitted, it can't be cancelled.

Postal voting has surged in popularity in recent years, with at least one in five votes cast by post at each of the three most recent general elections.

TOPSHOT - A man sits at a polling station set up at the Rawdon Model Boat Club, near Leeds on May 23, 2019, as voting for the European Parliament elections got underway across the country. - Voting got under way in Britain early on Thursday in elections to the European Parliament -- a contest the country had not expected to hold nearly three years after the Brexit referendum. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Emergency proxy applications can still be made on polling day. (AFP via Getty Images)

If you face an emergency which means you can't vote in person at a polling station, it is still possible to apply for an emergency proxy: whereby someone votes on your behalf.

The emergency must be a situation you weren't aware of before the normal proxy deadline, which was 26 June.

Emergency proxy applications can be made up to 5pm on Thursday, which is five hours before voting closes.

A voter can only apply for an emergency proxy if something unexpected prevents them from voting: a medical emergency, being away for work or a lost or stolen voter ID.

Emergency proxy application forms for these scenarios can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

Anyone voting in person at a polling station will need to provide voter ID. This must include a photo to be valid, but can still be valid even if the ID has expired.

Voters will need one of the following:

  • a UK or Northern Ireland photocard driving licence (full or provisional)

  • a driving licence issued by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands

  • a UK passport

  • a passport issued by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or a Commonwealth country

  • a PASS card (National Proof of Age Standards Scheme)

  • a Blue Badge

  • a biometric residence permit (BRP)

  • a Defence Identity Card (MOD form 90)

  • a national identity card issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

  • a Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card

  • a Voter Authority Certificate

  • an Anonymous Elector’s Document

One of the following travel passes is also acceptable as photo ID:

  • an older person’s bus pass

  • a disabled person’s bus pass

  • an Oyster 60+ card

  • a Freedom Pass

  • a Scottish National Entitlement Card (NEC)

  • a 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card

  • a Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card

  • a Northern Ireland concessionary travel pass

Any photo ID must look like you and the name must match what is written on the electoral register. If your name has changed you must bring documents that prove you have changed your name.

For anyone without photo ID, they won't be able to vote because the deadline for a Voter Authority Certificate - which is issued in place of photo ID - passed on 26 June.

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