Postal voting

If you are unable to vote in person at the polling station you can apply for a postal vote.

Who can vote by post?

Postal voting is available to all registered electors on request. You may wish to use a postal vote if:

  • your work or study means you are unable to vote at the polling station on polling day
  • you are in poor health or on holiday on polling day
  • it is simply more convenient for you.

A ballot paper is sent to the address provided on the postal vote application form.

In order to vote by post at any given election, the application must be received 11 working days prior to the election date. Postal votes can be sent to an address outside the UK, but the time taken for the post to travel should be taken into consideration.

You can apply for a postal vote at any time of the year; you do not have to wait until an election.

Apply for a postal vote

The easiest way to apply is online, you will need to provide your full name, address, date of birth, national insurance number and your signature. We need these details so we can verify your identity.

Once you have submitted your application, it will be returned to Electoral Services who will update the Electoral Register and send you a confirmation letter.

This information will be retained by the elections office and will be cross referenced at the election. This will remain confidential and will only be used for election purposes.

Apply for a postal vote

View the full Privacy Statement for postal voting.

If you cannot apply for a postal vote using the online portal, you can still complete a paper form and post it back to Electoral Registration, Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP. 

This will then be entered on to the online portal by a member of the Electoral Services Team. Alternatively, you can come in to Borough Hall and complete a form online.

When will your postal vote pack arrive?

You can expect to receive your postal vote pack approximately three weeks before polling day. You should complete and return your pack as soon as you receive it so you don’t lose it and do not let anyone else handle it.

What to do if your postal pack has not arrived

If your postal pack has not arrived by 28 June please email by 5pm on 4 July to request it to be reissued. 

How long does a postal vote last?

You will need to reapply for a postal vote every three years. 

If you have a long-term postal vote that you applied for before 31 October 2023, this will expire on 31 January 2026. Our electoral services team will contact you before your postal vote expires.

How to vote by post

Step one

When you receive your postal voting pack, check the contents carefully. Inside your pack, there should be:

  • instructions about how to cast your vote and how to return the postal vote
  • a postal voting statement
  • envelope A for your completed ballot paper
  • return envelope B
  • the ballot paper or papers for the elections taking place

Step two

Complete the postal voting statement carefully following the instructions.

Step three

Read the instructions on the ballot paper carefully. Some elections use different voting systems, so you need to make sure you fill in each ballot paper correctly.

Step four

Complete your ballot paper. Make sure you do it alone and in secret. Don't write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.

Step five

Put your ballot paper in the smaller envelope marked A.

Step six

Put your postal voting statement and the ballot paper envelope into the return envelope marked B, and seal it. Make sure the return address is clear.

Step seven

Put your postal vote somewhere safe until you're ready to post it.

Returning your postal vote

Return your completed postal vote as soon as possible by taking it to a Royal Mail post box yourself. 

If you can't post it yourself, you can ask someone you know and trust to post it for you. Avoid asking a candidate or party worker to post it for you. This is against their code of conduct.

Your postal vote needs to be with the elections team at your local council by 10pm on polling day to be counted.

If you can't post your postal vote in time, you can take it your polling station or to Borough Hall on polling day, you must hand your postal vote to a member of staff and complete a form.

You will be only be able to hand in your own postal vote, and the postal votes of up to five other people, at a polling station.

Campaigners can only hand in their own postal vote, and postal votes for up to five other people that are either close relatives, or someone they provide regular care for.

How to cancel your postal vote

If you want to cancel your postal vote you should contact us to request this. You must do so before 5pm, 11 working days before the election you will be voting in.

If you have already returned your completed postal vote, you will not be able to cancel it for that election.