Changes to postal vote rules

The Government is making changes to the UK electoral system, some of which will come into force from 2 May 2024. This page outlines the changes that affect postal vote handling and the secrecy of absent voting.

Limits on handing in postal votes at polling stations

There is now a limit on the number of postal votes a person can submit at a polling station:

  • A person can only submit a maximum of five postal ballot packs for other electors, in addition to their own.
  • If a person hands in more than five postal ballot packs for other electors, all of the postal votes (aside from their own) will be rejected.
  • If there is reason to suspect that a person has already handed in the maximum number of postal votes on any previous occasion at the election, any subsequent postal votes they attempt to hand in will be rejected.

Completion of postal vote documents form

Anyone handing in postal votes at a polling station will now need to complete a ‘return of postal voting documents’ form.

The person handing in the postal vote(s) will need to complete the form, which will ask for:

  • their name
  • address, and;
  • the reason for handing in other people’s postal votes (where appropriate).

They will also need to complete a declaration stating that:

  • that they are not handing in more than the maximum allowed number of votes (five), and;
  • they are not a political campaigner.

If the form is not completed with all the required information, or is not completed to the authorised officer’s satisfaction, the postal vote(s) will be rejected.

Rejected postal votes will not be included in the count. After the election, the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will write to electors who have had their postal votes rejected, telling them why.

Postal votes which are left at polling stations

Postal votes will not be accepted if they are simply left at a polling station.

If a person hands in postal votes without completing the ‘return of postal vote documents’ form, the ‘left behind’ postal votes must be rejected. After the election, the ERO will write to electors who have had their postal vote rejected and explain why.

Handing in postal votes to the Returning Officer

Electors sometimes hand in postal votes directly to the Returning Officer before the election, and on polling day itself.

The same restrictions, limits, and the requirement to complete a form that apply at polling stations will also apply to postal votes which are handed to the Returning Officer or at council offices.

Postal votes must be submitted in person, and you will be required to sign a form. They can be handed in at:

  • County Hall, Cross Street, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU17 9BA between 9am-4:30pm but will require people to sign a form.
  • any customer service centre.

Find your nearest customer service centre

Please note that customer service centres are not open every day and are running a booking system for people to hand in postal votes.

Postal votes handed in at any other address will not be accepted as there will be nobody present to provide and sign the return of postal voting documents form.

Any postal votes which are left at any council building without the ‘return of postal voting documents’ form being completed will be rejected. We also cannot accept any postal votes which are left in the council mailbox, or which are put in the internal mail system.

Ban on political campaigners handling postal votes

Political campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes, except where the postal vote is:

  • their own vote
  • the vote of a close family member, or;
  • the vote of someone they provide regular care for.

They are not banned from handling postal votes if they do so in the course of their usual duties (for example, if they work for Royal Mail).

If a political campaigner is found guilty of handling postal votes, they could face penalties such as a fine, or imprisonment of up to two years.

Secrecy requirements extended to postal and proxy votes

The ‘secrecy requirements’ which apply at polling stations are now being extended to include postal and proxy votes.

It is now:

  • an offence to try to find out how someone has voted when completing their postal vote, or to communicate how a postal or proxy voter has voted.

Anyone found guilty of breaching the secrecy requirements could face a fine or imprisonment up to six months.

Upcoming election

The general election gives the public their chance to decide who will become the MPs to represent our area in the UK Parliament.

4 July 2024
Please note

The Ward by-elections will also be held on the 4 July 2024. Find out more about the Ward by-elections.

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