Different ways to vote

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


Voting in person at a polling station

If you are registered to vote we will send you a poll card as soon as possible after an election is announced. The exception is at some parish/town council by-elections. If the parish/town council decides they do not want poll cards issued.

The poll card will confirm your details on the electoral register, the date of polling day and which polling station you can vote at on polling day.

Please note. If you change your registration details during the election period, this may affect your entitlement to vote at the election. The poll card may no longer be valid.

It will make it easier for our staff to find your name on the electoral register if you take the poll card with you to the polling station.

Most electors can still vote without their poll card provided their name is on the register at the polling station.

On arrival at your polling station, the presiding officer will ask you to state your name and address. They will then issue you with a ballot paper marked with the official imprint.

Take the ballot paper to one of the voting booths. Mark an "X" in the box on the right hand side of the paper. This should be against the name of the candidate(s) you wish to vote for. The maximum number of votes you are allowed is listed at the top of the ballot paper.

If you make a mistake or spoil your paper, you can take it back to the presiding officer and ask for another.

When you are happy with your vote, fold the ballot paper and put it into the ballot box.

If you have applied to vote by post you will not be able to vote at the polling station. You will receive a poll card to inform you that you have a postal vote.

You can view a map of the polling districts in Cornwall using our online mapping system.

Postal voting

If you are going to be away from home during the run up to an election and would like a postal vote, please check with us first. You should ensure that there is enough time for you to receive and return your ballot paper in time for your vote to be counted.

Applying for a postal vote

Applications for a postal vote can be made for a single election, for a specified period, or permanently.

You can apply for a postal vote at any time. You don’t have to wait for an election to be announced.

The deadline for applications is 5pm, 11 working days before an election. This excludes Saturdays, Sundays, Good Friday and any other bank holiday.

Application form to vote by post

All applications to vote by post must be sent to our office address by the relevant deadline for the election. Our address is included on this page. We can also accept a completed application form (pdf only) by e-mail to our e-mail address on this page.

You can’t sign an application on behalf of another elector, even if you have Power of Attorney.

Please be aware that to vote by post you must be registered under Individual Electoral Registration. For more information, please see our Individual Electoral Registration page.

Changes to a postal vote

The deadline for making changes to existing postal vote arrangements is also 5pm, 11 working days before an election.

Once you make a new application this will replace your old arrangement.

If you wish to re-instate your previous absent vote you will have to complete a new application form.

How voting by post works

A postal vote can be sent to your home address or any other address you specify. If your application is successful, you will be sent a letter confirming this.

Postal votes are usually sent out 10 days before the date of the election.

Postal votes can be posted back to us or returned by hand to our offices or a polling station before the close of poll.

If you have not received your postal vote or have spoilt it, please contact us. A replacement can be issued from our electoral services office up until 5pm on polling day. You will need to provide proof of identity to collect your replacement postal vote.

Postal votes have to be received at our offices or a polling station by the close of poll on polling day. Our address is on this page.

If you live overseas permanently, you will need to register as an overseas elector.

If you have been sent a postal vote, you cannot vote in person at a polling station.

Proxy voting

Covid-19 : The Government has enabled voters who have tested positive for COVID-19, or are self-isolating, to apply for an emergency proxy vote at short notice up until 5pm on polling day. This means they can still have their say without having to leave their home.
You can also continue to apply to vote by post.

Voting by proxy means you can appoint someone to vote for you at your polling station. You will need to tell your proxy which candidate(s) you wish to vote for.

Your proxy will normally be required to vote in person at your local polling station in the area where you are registered to vote.

If your proxy cannot get to your polling station, they can apply to vote by post. However, if they chose this option, they will not then be able to vote in person.

All applications to vote by proxy must be sent by the relevant deadline for the election. Our address is below.

Who can be my proxy?

Your proxy must be registered as an elector themselves. They must also be eligible to vote at the election that you want to vote in.

Your proxy can be a close relative (defined as your spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild) or a friend.

A proxy can only act as a proxy for up to two people who are not close relatives.

When can I apply for a proxy vote?

You can apply for a proxy vote at any time until 5pm, six working days before an election. You don’t have to wait for an election to be announced to apply.

If you change your mind and wish to vote in person, you can still do so, providing that your proxy has not already voted on your behalf.

Voting by proxy for a single election

Apply to vote by proxy for a single election

You have to provide a reason to vote by proxy for a single election.

Voting by proxy for all elections

You can only vote by proxy on an indefinite basis for the following reasons:

  • disability;
  • educational;
  • employment;
  • overseas voter;
  • service in the Armed Forces.

There are different proxy application forms available for the above categories. For further information, please go to the Your Vote Matters website.

Changing a proxy vote

If you want to change or cancel an existing proxy voting arrangement, the deadline is 5pm, 11 working days before an election.

Once you make a new application this will replace your old arrangement. If you wish to re-instate your previous absent vote you will have to complete a new application form.

You cannot sign a proxy vote application on behalf of another elector, even if you have Power of Attorney.

If an elector cannot sign the form due to a disability or is unable to read or write, please contact us.

Emergency proxy voting

Medical emergency

If you have a medical emergency six working days or less before the election, you can apply for an emergency proxy vote. You can apply to vote by emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day.

Your application to vote by emergency proxy must be supported by a doctor, registered state nurse, or Christian science practitioner. One of these must sign your application.

Download a medical emergency proxy form

Occupation or employment reasons

If you are not able to attend the polling station in person for reasons relating to your occupation, service or employment, and you only become aware of this after 5pm on the sixth working day before an election, you can apply to vote by emergency proxy up until 5pm on election day.

Download an occupation, service or employment emergency proxy form.

If you are self-employed, your application must be supported by a person aged 18 years or over who knows you and is not your:

  • spouse
  • civil partner
  • parent
  • grandparent
  • brother
  • sister
  • child or
  • grandchild

If you are a member of the Armed Forces, a Crown servant, a British Council employee and you are registered as a service voter, you do not need support for your application.

Similarily, if you are the spouse or civil partner of one of the above and you are registered as a service voter, you do not need support for your application.

If you are registered as an ordinary elector, you will need support from your employer or another authorised person at your workplace.

Supporting vulnerable people to vote

You can help someone with a physical disability who cannot write or type. You can type for them as long as they are present and can communicate that the information provided on the application is true.

Applications ask for the individual’s date of birth and National Insurance number. You may need to make extra effort to obtain this information. For example, you may need to speak to a relative to obtain it.

A person who is applying to vote by post, or who already votes by post, and is unable to sign or to provide a signature in a consistent way can apply for a ‘signature waiver’ by contacting the elections team.

Need help?

Most issues can be resolved online, it's the quickest and most convenient way to get help.

Use our contact us form

Your feedback is important to us

Help us improve our service

Give feedback about your experience