How to vote

Voting by post

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Changes to postal votes from 2 May 2024

From and after 2 May there are changes made to postal votes including online voting applications. The rules of secrecy and who can handle postal votes are have also changed. Under the new rules:

  • you will need to renew your postal vote every 3 years by resubmitting a postal vote application
  • there will be a limit on the number of postal vote packs that you can hand in at a polling station. You will be allowed to take your own, and up to five others. You will need to complete a postal vote return form. (More information on handing in your postal vote)
  • political parties and campaigners are banned from handling postal vote packs on behalf of electors
  • when you apply for a postal vote you will need to provide proof of your identity. Both online and paper applications will require ID verification. This will include your National Insurance number as well as your signature and date of birth.

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To vote by post is a convenient and secure way of voting. It means you do not miss out on voting if you can't get to your polling station.

Who can vote by post

You do not need to give a reason to want to vote by post, but you must be registered to vote before you can apply for a postal vote.

This request can be for a:

  • maximum of 3 years
  • particular election only or
  • specific period only.

Apply for a postal vote

You can apply for a postal vote through the GOV.uk website.

If you can't apply online, please email ballotbox@slough.gov.uk for a paper form.

The paper form must be returned to: Electoral Services, Observatory House, 25 Windsor Road, Slough, SL1 2EL.

You will need to include your signature, date of birth and your National Insurance number.

Where you can receive the postal vote

You can have the postal vote sent wherever you decide. But if you want it sent to a different address from where you're registered to vote, you must tell us the reason why you want to do this.

We can refuse to send your postal vote to the address you request if we are not satisfied with the reason given. We will tell you if this is the case.

If your postal vote does not arrive

You should receive your postal vote pack a few weeks before the election. This gives you longer to complete your ballot papers.

Phone Electoral Services on 01753 475111 or email ballotbox@slough.gov.uk if you do not get your postal vote pack 5 working days before election day.

How to complete your postal vote

You complete your ballot papers as normal.

Instructions on which envelope to use for the ballot paper(s) will be in your postal ballot pack.

You will be asked for your date of birth and signature. This is used to identify that you have filled in the ballot papers.

If there are a few of you in the household with postal votes, please make sure you complete your own form (your name will be on the paperwork).

Protect your postal vote from fraud 

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

When you return your postal voting pack you will be asked for your signature and date of birth. To confirm your identity these will be checked against those you would have have already provided when you applied for a postal vote.

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

Deadline

Your postal vote must be received back by election day.

Where can I hand in my postal votes and complete the postal vote return form?

If there is sufficient time for the pack to be received, please post your postal vote pack into any Royal Mail post box.

If handing in your postal vote ballot pack by hand, there are only two authorised locations where this can be undertaken in the Slough:

  • during the hours of poll (07:00 – 22:00), to the Presiding Officer of any polling station in the electoral area of the Slough.
  • to the Council Office at Slough Borough Council, Observatory House, 25 Windsor Road, Slough, SL1 2EL. Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 16:00 only. On the day of the poll, the office will be available until 22:00.

Postal vote packs handed in at any other location will not be accepted as there will be nobody present who is authorised to receive your postal vote pack. Postal vote packs which are left behind at any council building without completing the postal vote returning form will also be rejected.

Please note, any postal packs left at reception will be rejected as they will not have the relevant authorised form with them.

Anyone handing in postal votes will need to complete a postal vote return 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.

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.

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).

A political campaigner is defined in legislation as:

  • a candidate at the election
  • an election agent of a candidate at the election
  • a sub-agent of an election agent at the election
  • employed or engaged for the purposes of that person’s activities as a candidate
  • a member of a registered political party and carries on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election
  • employed or engaged by a registered political party in connection with the party’s political activities
  • employed or engaged by a person within paragraphs (a) to (f) to carry on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election
  • employed or engaged by a person within paragraph (g) to carry on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election

If found guilty of handling postal votes as a campaigner, a person could face a fine and/or imprisonment up to two years.