Voting by proxy
Voting by proxy is a convenient way of voting if you are unable to get to the polling station. By proxy just means that you appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf. This section tells you how voting by proxy works.
Voting by proxy can be useful if you fall ill and are unable to get to the polling station on election day, or if you are abroad during an election. It can be particularly useful if you are overseas in a country too far away to send back a postal vote in time for the election (for instance, if you are in the Armed Forces and deployed overseas).
To vote by proxy, you’ll need to fill in an application form. You can apply to vote by proxy now - using a form from this website. You’ll need to print the form and complete it, then sign it, and send it back to your local electoral registration office. You can get their address and other contact details by entering your postcode on this site.
You need to sign your application form personally because the electoral registration office needs a copy of your signature for voting security reasons. We know it’s slightly less convenient than submitting it online, but it helps to ensure the security of your vote and is used to tackle electoral fraud.
Can I apply for a proxy vote?
You can apply for a proxy vote as long as you are on the electoral register. When you apply for a proxy vote you have to provide a reason. You can apply for a proxy vote if:
- You are unable to go to the polling station for one particular election, for example, if you are away on holiday
- You have a physical condition that means you cannot go to the polling station on election day
- Your employment means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
- Your attendance on an educational course means that you cannot go to the polling station on election day
- You are a British citizen living overseas
- You are a crown servant or a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces
Except if you are registered blind, you may have to get someone to support your application to confirm that your reason for applying to vote by proxy is valid. Read the notes that accompany the application form to find out if you need to get someone to support your application and who can do it.
When can I apply to vote by proxy?
The deadline for applying to vote by proxy is normally 5pm, 6 working days before an election. For the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September 2014, the deadline to apply to vote by proxy is 5pm on 3 September 2014, 11 working days before the referendum.
What if I miss the deadline but can't go to my polling station?
If you have a medical emergency after the deadline, you can apply to vote by emergency proxy (until 5pm on the day of the election) if the emergency means that you cannot go to the polling station in person.
You can also apply to vote by emergency proxy (until 5pm on the day of the election) if your occupation, service or employment means that you cannot go to the polling station in person, and you only become aware of that fact after the deadline (ie. after 5pm, 6 working days before the election, or 11 working days before the Scottish referendum).
For the Scottish independence referendum you can apply for an emergency proxy for any reason that caused you to be unexpectedly and unavoidably called away from home.
Who can vote on my behalf?
Anyone can be your proxy as long as they are eligible to vote in that type of election and they are willing to vote on your behalf.
You cannot be a proxy for more than two people at any one election, unless they are a close relative.
For the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September 2014, your proxy can be anyone who will be aged at least 16 on the date of the referendum. Your proxy does not need to be registered to vote or to be resident in Scotland, but they must be a British, Irish, European Union or Commonwealth citizen.
More questions about voting by proxy? Have a look at our Frequently Asked Questions.