Voters reminded of changes to postal vote handling

Postal vote packs will soon be landing on the doormats of voters across Cumbria ahead of elections on 2 May.

On this date, electors across the county will be electing their next Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC). There’s also a by-election in the Grange and Carmel ward of Westmorland and Furness Council, as well as Town and Parish Council elections across the Westmorland and Furness area. Full details of the elections being held are available at Elections – May 2024 | Westmorland and Furness Council

When your pack arrives, postal voters are advised to read the information contained within it carefully to ensure their vote is counted.

All postal votes must be returned by 10pm on 2 May 2024 for counting and voters are encouraged to post their vote back in good time using the Royal Mail envelope provided to ensure their vote is received in good time.

Anyone who finds they have not left have enough time to use the postal service can hand their postal vote in at their local polling station. Changes to the law means that any postal vote handed in at a polling station must now be formally recorded on a postal vote return form, or the vote will be rejected.

These changes also mean that electors cannot drop their postal votes through letter boxes at council offices, or hand deliver them to a member of staff without first completing a postal vote return form. Any postal vote returned in this way without a completing a postal vote return form, will be rejected.

The new rules also mean there are now limits on the number of postal votes that can be handed in by one person. You can now only hand-in your own postal vote and the votes of up to five additional people. A postal vote return form must also be completed.

Andrew Seekings, Electoral Registration Officer for Cumberland Council and the Police Area Returning Officer for Cumbria, said: “Postal votes are popular with many voters, especially those who find they cannot make it to the polling station on the day of the election. When your postal vote pack arrives, do read the instructions carefully to ensure you complete it correctly.

“The easiest way to return your postal vote is by using the Royal Mail pre-paid envelope provided within your pack. If you have left it too late to do this, or you wish to hand it in at our offices, please do make sure a postal vote return form is completed, or your vote will have to be rejected.”

The deadline for new applications for postal votes for the elections on 2 May was 5pm on 17 April. Voters who have missed that deadline and cannot make it to a polling station on the day of the election do have until 5pm on 24 April to apply for a proxy vote.

Postal votes issued by Westmorland and Furness Council can be hand delivered to Barrow Town Hall, Kendal Town Hall or Penrith Town Hall. A postal vote return form must be completed.

Voters are also reminded that you are now legally required to show photo identification, when voting in person at a polling station. You may already have a form of photo ID that is acceptable. You can use any of the following:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence (including provisional license)
  • Blue badge
  • Certain concessionary travel cards
  • Identity card with PASS mark (Proof of Age Standards Scheme)
  • Biometric Immigration document
  • Defence identity card
  • Certain national identity cards

You will only need to show one form of photo ID, but it needs to be the original version and not a photocopy. The name on your ID must be the same name you used to register to vote.

If you don’t already have an accepted form of photo ID, or you’re not sure whether your photo ID still looks like you, you can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate – Apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate.

The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate for use at a particular election is 5pm 25 April 2024. This is also the deadline for new applications to vote by proxy – Proxy voting | Westmorland and Furness Council

For more information, including the full list of accepted forms of photo ID, visit the Electoral Commission website or call their helpline on 0800 328 0280.

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