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How to vote at elections

How to vote at elections.

There are a number of ways to have your say - you can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf, known as a proxy vote.

To vote in any election in the UK, you must be registered to vote. Check the timetable for the next election for the current registration deadline.

How to register to vote.

It takes 5 minutes to register and you can do this online at

If you're unable to register online, you can apply by post. You can download the relevant forms at

If you were registered to vote in the last election and your details have not changed, you don’t need to take any action. If in doubt, you can check with us on 01621 854 477, or email the Elections team.

How to vote by post or proxy.

To apply to vote by post you need to download, print and fill in a postal vote application form. Once you have completed the form and signed it, you need to send it to the electoral services team, or you can email scanned forms to If you can’t print the form, contact us so that a form can be posted to you.

If you want to vote by post, you can apply to do this now. This will make sure your application is processed early, and your postal vote can be sent to you more quickly once the candidates for the elections are confirmed.

If you are not able to vote in person, you can ask someone you trust to vote for you. This is called a proxy vote and the person is often referred to as your proxy.

To apply for a proxy vote, complete the form to vote by proxy, explaining why you can't get to your polling station in person. The person voting on your behalf can either go to your polling station to vote, or can apply to vote for you by post.

Check the timetable for the next election for the current deadlines to apply for a postal or proxy vote.

If you already have a postal or proxy vote arrangement in place, and your details have not changed, you don't need to take any action. If in doubt, you can check with us on 01621 854 477, or email the Elections team.

Don’t forget that however you choose to vote, you must be registered first.

How do you protect postal voting from fraud?

When voting by post, you should mark your vote on the ballot paper in secret and seal the envelope yourself.

You will be asked to give your date of birth and signature when applying for a postal or proxy vote. When you return your postal voting pack you will again be asked for your signature and date of birth, and these will be checked against those you have already provided in order to confirm your identity.

Your signature and date of birth are separated from your ballot paper before it is looked at or counted, so giving this information will not affect the secrecy of your vote.

Changes to Postal Vote Handling process

Important: changes to postal vote arrangements 

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex election takes place on Thursday 2 May, and postal votes have now started being sent out.

This election brings with it an important change in the rules around the handing in of postal votes.

While we expect most people with a postal vote will continue to send it in via a Royal Mail post box - the process for which is unchanged - some drop them off direct to us at the council offices.

And this is where the change comes in.

Anyone bringing in a postal vote will now have to complete a postal vote return form. If they do not do this, the postal vote will be rejected.

The form will also need to be countersigned, so it cannot just be completed and left. A member of our reception team will need to go through it with the individual bringing it in.

There is also now a maximum number of postal votes that can be handed in, which is five plus your own.

And political campaigners are no longer allowed to hand in postal votes unless they all belong to close relatives or people they provide regular care to.

To help the public through these changes, our reception at Princes Road is open every weekday between 9am and 4pm until election day. Staff will be on hand and postal vote return forms will be available.

A notice will go on our letterbox explaining that any postal vote posted through it will be rejected.

The exact same rules for completing a postal vote return form also apply to anyone who returns a postal vote at a polling station on election day.