How to refresh your signature for absent voting.
On 19 January 2017, electors whose signature is more than 5 years old were sent a letter requesting an up to date signature. This means anyone whose postal vote has been in place since before 30 January 2012.
Please look out for the form being sent to your address in January 2017. Please make sure you sign and return it ASAP as we legally have to send a reminder 3 weeks later to everyone who does not respond and this costs us more money.
If you have a disability which means that you either cannot provide a signature or sign in a consistent and distinctive way, please indicate this on the form and make sure the name and address of your helper is provided.
If you no longer want to vote by post you must respond by ticking the relevant box on the form and return it to us as soon as possible in order to avoid any unnecessary reminders. For proxy voters the process is the same as for postal voters.
Please note, if you do not return the signature refresh form by the deadline of 2 March 2017 your existing absent vote facility will be cancelled and you will have to vote in person or make a new application.
If you miss the deadline and your absent vote facility is cancelled a letter will be sent informing you of this action. The letter includes a new absent vote application.
Why do you need to refresh your signature?
Under the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001, Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) must, by 31 January each year, send every person who has an absent vote and whose signature has been held for more than five years a notice requiring them to provide a fresh signature if they wish to remain an absent voter. This applies to postal voters, electors who have appointed a proxy and postal proxies.
Absent Voters (i.e. those who vote by post or by proxy) are required to provide a signature and date of birth when they first apply. When you are sent your postal vote for an election you are required to provide your signature and date of birth on a postal voting statement. These 'personal identifiers' are checked against those you provided on your original postal vote application form, to ensure that they match. This is to prevent someone else from using your vote. If they do not match, your vote cannot be counted. Your personal identifiers are always kept separate from your ballot paper, so no-one knows how you have voted. An important part of these security measures is providing a fresh specimen signature every 5 years, since people's signatures and circumstances can change over time. The legislation requires the Electoral Registration Officer to carry out an annual refresh of signatures.