In 2007, the Law regarding absent votes changed, and a requirement was introduced for all absent voters (those who vote by post or by proxy) to provide their signature and date of birth when they first apply for their absent vote arrangement.
These measures were introduced to improve the security of absent voting, as these personal identifiers are requested each time a postal ballot pack is sent to an elector, and can then be checked against the identifiers provided on the voters original postal vote application form to ensure that they match. If they do not match, the vote is not counted. This is to prevent someone from using a postal vote which is not addressed to them.
Since people's signatures and circumstances can change over time, the law requires each absent voter to provide a fresh specimen signature every 5 years. We therefore send out a 'Postal/Proxy Vote Refresh Form' for absent voters to complete so that they can provide a new sample of their signature and confirm their date of birth for our records. We do this each year, writing to those electors that fall within the 5 year renewal period each time. As it is a legal requirement for a new sample signature to be provided, we send a pre-paid envelope with the form so that electors can send it back to us free of charge.
If you have received a postal/proxy vote refresh form and your name, address, the address for your postal ballot papers or the details of your proxy have changed, please amend the relevant details on the form. Please then sign the form and provide your date of birth before sending it back to us. In some cases we may need to send you an additional form to complete.
If you have a disability/illness/injury which means that you either cannot provide a signature or sign in a consistent and distinctive way, please indicate this on the form and return it to the Elections Office. The Electoral Registration Officer may grant you a 'waiver' of the requirement to provide a signature, subject to an additional form being witnessed on your behalf.
If you no longer want to vote by post/proxy you must respond by ticking the relevant box on the form, signing the form and then returning it to us as soon as possible so that we can cancel your arrangement and avoid any unnecessary reminders. We will contact you in writing to confirm that your arrangement has been cancelled.
If you do not return the signature refresh form by the deadline your existing absent vote arrangement will be cancelled and you will have to vote in person or make a new application.
The signature refresh exercise will happen every year, but we will only send refresh forms to those voters who applied over 5 years ago. You will not need to provide a refresh of your identifiers until 5 years has passed since your original application. You will only need to update your record when you receive correspondence from us.
If you have any questions about the signature refresh exercise please contact our Electoral Services Team.