If you are over 18 and have registered to vote[external link], you can apply for a postal vote. You do not need a reason to vote by post, however you may find it easier to vote by post if you have difficulty getting to the polling station on the day of an election, or work away from home.
How can I apply for a postal vote?
If you would like to apply for a postal vote email [email protected] and we will send you an application form. Forms to be returned to the Elections Office, Darlington Borough Council, Town Hall, Darlington, DL1 5QT.
You will need to give your date of birth and signature on the application form, and again when you use your postal vote. This helps to ensure the security of your vote and is used to tackle electoral fraud.
A postal vote can be sent to your home address, or to any other address that you give. Postal votes can be sent overseas, but you need to consider whether there will be enough time to receive and return your postal vote by election day.
Any new postal vote application form must be completed and returned to the office no later than 5pm, 11 working days before the election.
When will I receive my postal vote?
Postal votes are usually sent out about a week before election day. When you receive your postal vote put the paperwork somewhere safe, don't let anyone else handle your voting papers, and make sure they are not left where someone else can pick them up.
When you want to vote:
Once you have decided who you wish to vote for:
- complete the ballot paper on your own
- don't let anyone else vote for you
- don't let anyone else see your vote
- don't give the ballot paper to anyone else
- put the ballot paper in the smaller envelope and seal it up yourself
- complete and sign the postal voting statement
- put the postal voting statement and the smaller envelope containing your ballot paper into the larger envelope and seal it.
Postal votes should be returned by close of poll on the day of an election (usually 10pm). If it arrives later than this your vote won’t be counted.
If you do not receive your postal vote by the date of an election, you should contact us for a replacement - you must do this before 5pm on election day.
When you return your postal vote:
If you can, take your postal vote to the post box yourself. If you are unable to do that, either give it to somebody you know and trust to post it for you, or ring us to see if someone can collect it from you.
DON’T hand it to a candidate or party worker.
DON’T leave it where someone else can pick it up.
If anyone tries to help you against your will, or force you to give them your postal vote, you should contact the Police.
Remember that this is your vote - so keep it to yourself!
Absent vote refresh
Absent voters (people who vote by post or proxy) are required to provide a signature and their date of birth when they first apply for an absent vote. These are known as 'personal identifiers'.
At election time, ballot papers are posted out to absent voters, together with a postal vote statement. To vote, each absent voter must complete and return the postal vote statement by providing their signature and date of birth, along with their completed ballot paper. The signature and date of birth are then checked against the signature and date of birth provided on the original application to ensure that they match. This is to prevent electoral fraud.
You must provide an updated signature every five years, as signatures can change over time.
Each January, we are legally required to write to all absent voters whose signatures are more than five years old, requesting that they complete an application form and provide a fresh signature.
If we do not receive a response after six weeks your postal/proxy vote will be cancelled. You will still be able to vote in person at a polling station, or you can request to vote by postal/proxy vote again.