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Postal voting new rules

Changes to postal vote handling and the secrecy of absent voting happening from 2 May 2024.

1. Ban on political campaigners handling postal votes

  • Political campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes, except where the postal vote is their own, that of a close family member, or 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 found guilty of handling postal votes as a campaigner, a person could face a fine and/or imprisonment up to two years.

2. Limits on handing in postal votes at polling stations

  • There will be a limit on the number of postal votes a person can hand in at a polling station – they will not be allowed to hand in more than five postal ballot packs for other electors plus their own.
  • If a person hands in more than five postal ballot packs for other electors, all the postal votes (other than 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 handed in will be rejected.

3. Completion of postal vote documents form

  • Anyone handing in postal votes at a polling station will need to complete a ‘return of postal voting documents’ form.
  • The person handing in the postal vote(s) will need to complete the form with their name, address and the reason for handing in other people’s postal votes (where appropriate).
  • They will also need to complete a declaration that they are not handing in more than the permitted number, and that they are not a political campaigner.
  • If the form is not completed with all the required information, or 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.

4. Postal votes which are ‘left behind’

  • 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 .

5. Handing in postal votes to the Returning Officer

  • Electors sometimes hand postal votes in directly to the Returning Officer in advance of the election, and on polling day itself.
  • The same restrictions, limits, and requirement to complete a form which apply at polling stations, will also apply to postal votes handed to the Returning Officer or at council offices.
  • We will accept postal votes handed in personally at Municipal Offices, Town Hall Square, Grimsby, DN31 1HU but will require people to sign a form.
  • 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 cannot accept any postal votes which are left in the council mailbox, or which are put in the internal mail system.

6. Secrecy requirements extended to postal and proxy votes

  • The secrecy requirements which apply at a polling station are being extended to postal and proxy votes.
  • It will be 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.

Contact details

Elections, Municipal Offices, Town Hall Square, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN31 1HU

Elections team contact form

Telephone: 01472 324160