Voting by post or proxy - absent voting

Anyone who is registered on the Electoral Register can apply to vote by post or appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf.

You can apply for a postal or proxy vote to be set up for the maximum period of time allowed for each application, for a temporary period of time (for example if you are away at university) or for 1 election.

We must check the identity of the each person on an application for a postal or proxy vote so the application must include all of the following,

  • applicant’s full name and registered address
  • date of birth
  • national insurance number
  • signature
  • postal applications only – an address where the ballot papers should be sent to if this is different from the registered address and the reason why
  • proxy applications only – details of the person the applicant wishes to appoint as their proxy to vote in person on their behalf

On this page

Apply to vote by post

You can either:

Return a completed paper postal application form

  • by post to - Electoral Services Department, Cheshire East Borough Council, Ground Floor, Macclesfield Town Hall, C/O Delamere House, Delamere Street, Crewe, CW1 2LL.

Voting by post

We can send a postal ballot to your home address or another address if you provide a reason for a different address, for example you are on holiday.

We normally send postal or proxy postal (someone to vote on your behalf by post) ballot papers to the elector (or their nominated postal proxy) 2 weeks before the election date. If you are away at the time of the issue of the ballot papers it may be more relevant to either re-direct the ballot paper to another address (for example if you are on holiday) or to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf. You need to complete fresh application forms to request either of these options either by paper form or online.

Before an election all postal voters will receive a pink postal poll card. This provides the date we expect to send the postal ballot papers. We cannot issue them before this date due to the election timetable and legislation.

When you get your postal vote

  • Follow the instructions that are included with the contents of the envelope.
  • The instructions are usually on a separate sheet.
  • The security statement will usually be attached to the ballot paper.
  • You can vote for as many candidates as it details on the top of the ballot paper.
  • On the ballot paper, place a 'X' next to the candidate/s you wish to vote for. This is a secret ballot, you should not show anyone your vote.
  • Put the ballot paper into the brown envelope marked ‘Ballot Paper Envelope 'A’ & seal it. Do not allow anyone else to see who you have voted for.
  • Next you should complete the security statement. You must sign the security statement yourself (unless you have a waiver granted) and add your date of birth in all of the relevant boxes (if your date of birth is 17 May 1970 for example, you should enter 17-05-1970). It is important to note that the signature you supply on your application is compared against the signature on the completed security statement.
  • You do not need anyone to witness you signing the security statement.
  • You should put the ballot paper envelope and the security statement into the white envelope marked ‘B’
  • Make sure the Returning Officer address is showing through the window of Envelope B.
  • Seal the envelope and post it through a Royal Mail post box as soon as possible.

Taking your postal ballot pack to the polling station or council office

Where possible all postal ballot packs should be returned via the postal system, by placing your completed pack in a post box no later than the day before election day.

Postal ballot packs that you are unable to return via the post, can be handed in at council offices during normal office hours or on election day only, they can be hand delivered to a presiding officer at any polling station in the voting area before the close of poll.  

Postal ballot packs can only be handed to an authorised person, the authorised person will assist you to complete a Postal Vote Return Form. Any postal ballot packs which are left in reception areas or pushed through the council letterbox will be rejected, the person delivering the postal ballot packs must complete the form with the person authorised to receive them.

Postal ballot packs can be handed in at the reception desks at the following council offices – Macclesfield Town Hall, Westfields Sandbach, Delamere House Crewe and Municipal Buildings Crewe. Postal ballot packs cannot be handed in at any other Cheshire East premises e.g., libraries.

You will need to complete a document containing your details to hand in with the completed postal ballot packs. The document is available at the polling station, the council offices detailed above or via the Postal Vote Return Form the maximum number of postal ballot packs that can be handed in to a polling station by one person is your own, plus those of up to 5 others.

If you have a postal vote and you are delivering the packs by hand at the polling station you cannot put your postal ballot paper into the ballot box.

You must hand the completed ballot pack/s and the completed postal vote return form to the presiding officer/authorised person who has a separate envelope for postal ballot packs. The presiding officer will assist you to fill out the postal vote return form. If you leave the postal ballot packs at the polling station without completing this form with the polling station staff, the packs will be rejected.

Political campaigners can only hand in their own postal vote, plus up to 5 others for close relatives, or someone they provide regular care to.

Security of postal votes

Postal voting is safe, secure and secret. You should complete your ballot papers yourself, not show them to anyone else and post your vote as early as possible to ensure it gets counted.

The ballot is secret. No-one can find out how you have voted. Anything which identifies you cannot be accessed, or referred to when your vote has been received.

There are numbers on the ballot paper and security statement to prevent fraud. Everyone has a unique identifying number. When postal votes are returned, we check the number on the security statements against the number on the sealed envelopes that the ballot papers are in. We then remove the statements and store them away. We open the ballot paper envelopes and place the votes face down to count them. The counted votes are then also removed and stored away. At no time during this process do the statement and the ballot paper come into contact with each other. We seal all the documents immediately after the election and they can only be unsealed by a court order. The Corresponding Numbers Lists (CNL's) are stored away before any postal votes have been returned. All the papers and documents are destroyed after a prescribed period.

Mistakes or lost papers

We may be able to send a replacement if you have made a mistake or lost your postal ballot papers.


Call the Elections office on 0300 123 5016

The correct ballot papers

The ballot paper must only be completed by the person it is addressed to. It is an offence to complete someone else’s ballot paper.

You can only vote once in a single election, even if the ballot papers are for different wards/constituencies etc. It is an election offence to vote more than once in a particular election. If you receive 2 packs for example 1 at an old address and 1 at a new address you should send back, unopened, the postal vote for your old address to Electoral Services department, Cheshire East Borough Council, Macclesfield Town Hall, C/O Delamere House, Delamere Street, Crewe, CW1 2LL.

If you have recently changed your name and you have been sent a poll card or postal vote in your previous name you can still vote using the ballot you have been sent. (For postal votes only) if you signed your postal vote application form in your previous name, then you should sign your security statement with your previous signature.

You should then re-register on the Electoral Roll in your new name, this can be completed online at, or by requesting a paper application form by telephoning the Elections Office on 0300 123 5016, you will need to supply your National Insurance Number and date of birth to complete the registration.  You can request a new postal vote application form as part of the registration process which will be sent to you in your new name, for completion and return.  

Voting by proxy

A proxy vote is where you nominate someone to vote on your behalf.

Your nominated proxy can either be someone who lives locally to you and can go and vote in person on your behalf at your polling station or can be someone who lives in another part of the country who would have to vote on your behalf by post.

Anyone can apply to vote by proxy. You can set up the application for the maximum period of time (this application type needs to be attested), for a specific election or for a period of time. For more information on proxy voting you can call our helpline on 0300 123 5016.

You can appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf by completing an application form and returning it by the deadline before an election (6 working days, provided that you do not already have a postal vote in place, in which case it is 11 working days).

A person is not entitled to vote as a proxy in any electoral area on behalf of more than 4 electors. Within the 4 electors, no more than 2 can be domestic electors (Domestic electors are those electors who are neither service voters nor overseas electors).

You can either:

Return a completed paper proxy application form

  • by email to - attaching a JPEG or PDF of the completed application form, as a clear image with a white background.
  • by post to - Electoral Services Department, Cheshire East Borough Council, Ground Floor, Macclesfield Town Hall, C/O Delamere House, Delamere Street, Crewe, CW1 2LL.

Voting by proxy postal

You can appoint a person to be your proxy postal voter, this is normally someone who does not live locally but is a trusted person.  The application form must be completed and returned by the deadline before an election (11 working days). 

The application form comes in 2 separate sections

  1. There is a page for the elector’s details, to include your date of birth, signature, national insurance number, how long you wish the proxy postal to be effective for (attestation is required for a permanent application), the name and full address of the person who is going to vote on your behalf. 
  2. The 2nd part of the form is for your proxy to complete. This requires their signature, date of birth, national insurance number, details of how long they are going to vote on your behalf and the address the ballot paper is to be sent to.

For an application form or more information on how to vote by proxy postal contact our helpline on 0300 123 5016 or email, please ensure that the email requests a proxy postal application form.

Return the completed proxy postal application form:

  • by email to -  attaching a JPEG or PDF of the completed application form, as a clear image with a white background.
  • by post to - Electoral Services Department, Cheshire East Borough Council, Ground Floor, Macclesfield Town Hall, C/O Delamere House, Delamere Street, Crewe, CW1 2LL.

Waiver applications

An elector may need to complete a Waiver postal, proxy or proxy postal application (as applicable) in the following instances:

  • If the elector is unable to sign in a consistent manner due to disability or inability
  • If the elector is unable to sign due to disability

The waiver application omits the requirement for the elector to produce a signature on their application form and on their postal voting statement when voting by post at election time, the requirement to complete the electors date of birth still exists.

If you require a waiver postal vote, apply online at GOV.UK  detailing the reason you are unable to sign the application form, or contact the elections team directly requesting the correct application form is sent out to you by emailing

Absent vote refresh/reapplication process

Every permanent absent vote application on file – Postal, Proxy or Proxy Postal, must be reapplied for at regular intervals. The Electoral Registration Officer for each local authority must ask for new details and will write out to affected electors when required by law.

The legislative process involves sending out a fresh application form, with a reply-paid envelope to every absent voter whose application has been on file for the legislative time limit, to check and update the records that are currently held.  The application asks that the person either completes a new paper form or completes an online application to provide an up-to-date signature and checks that the information held is accurate. Signatures can change over time, and it is important that a new one be obtained on a regular basis.

If you make a mistake when completing the refresh form, you can ask for a replacement form by emailing or respectively. You can ask for help with your refresh form by phone on 0300 123 5016.

If you do not wish to vote by post/proxy any longer there is a tick box on the form to indicate this, please tick this box and return the form in the envelope provided.

If you have changed your name or address, indicate this on the form and return it in the envelope provided. We will send a new registration form for your new address or in your new name.

If you do not return the new application form or reapply online by the deadline your Postal, Proxy or Proxy Postal vote record will be removed.

Apply for an emergency proxy vote

If the proxy vote deadline has passed you may be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote if any of the following apply:

  • you cannot vote in person because of a medical emergency or disability
  • you cannot vote in person because of your employment
  • the photo  ID you were planning on using to vote has been lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed
  • you’ve not yet received a new or replacement photo  ID you’ve ordered 

Cancel your postal or proxy vote

If you currently have a postal or proxy vote in place but you wish to cancel this and revert back to voting in person at election time, details are supplied with the relevant deadline on your poll card ahead of each election.

You can cancel your postal or proxy vote at any time, provided it is before the election timetable deadline (11 working days before election day). Email the electoral information team or phone the Elections office on 0300 123 5016 who will advise you further.

Page last reviewed: 20 May 2024