From 31 October 2023, all postal and proxy vote applicants must provide a National Insurance Number in order to verify their identity. The applicant’s name, address, date of birth and National Insurance Number will then be checked against the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) database.
If the application fails to match with DWP data, the applicant will be required to provide documentary evidence, such as a copy of their driving licence, or passport, to verify their identity. Where this is not possible, electors must submit an attestation to confirm their identity.
In order to assist with these changes and to simplify the application process, a new service is launching on www.gov.uk, enabling voters to apply for a postal, or proxy vote online.
From 31 October, voters will be able to apply for a postal vote, a proxy vote for a particular election of referendum and a proxy vote for definite or indefinite periods for overseas voters either online, or through a paper application. All other types of proxy vote are still available, but only through a paper application.
A spokesperson for Westmorland & Furness Council’s Electoral Services team said, “Anyone applying for a postal vote from 31 October 2023 onwards will only be able to hold their postal vote for a maximum period of 3 years, until the third 31 January after their application is accepted.
“Existing postal voters, those whose applications were verified before 31 October 2023, will keep their postal vote until 31 January 2026, when they’ll need to reapply.
“Proxy votes will continue to apply for an indefinite period, subject to a three yearly eligibility check, and a five yearly signature refresh.
“However, all existing proxy voters who have an arrangement in place before 31 October 2023 must reapply and make a fresh application by 31 January 2024. This is because the number of people a person can act as a proxy for has been restricted.”
From 31 October, a person cannot act as proxy on behalf of more than four electors in any electoral area. Within those four electors, no more than two can be domestic electors. Domestic electors are those who are neither service voters, nor overseas electors.
There will also be changes for overseas voters, says the spokesperson, “If you are applying to be an overseas elector, or to renew a current overseas registration, on or after 16 January 2024, your entitlement to be registered as an overseas elector will last until the third 1 November following the date the registration takes effect.
“Where an overseas elector applies to vote by post, the postal vote will be linked to their overseas declaration and will expire on the third 1 November, as well. Where an overseas elector applies to vote by proxy, they will need to refresh their signature to renew their proxy vote at the same time their registration would normally expire.”
For more information visit www.westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk/voting-and-elections If you have any questions contact the Council’s Electoral Services Team by calling 0300 373 3300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org