Supply and inspection of the absent voting lists

Absent voting lists and information contained on the absent voting record which would be used to generate the lists in case of a poll are available for public inspection. Copies of the relevant part may be supplied, free of charge, to:1  

  • elected representatives 
  • local constituency parties
  • political parties 
  • candidates 

The relevant part is the same part that is specified in the regulations for the supply of the electoral register. Details can be found in our resource:

A record should be kept of every person or organisation who has been supplied with absent voting lists. This will help to show that you are complying with data protection legislation and the principles of processing personal data, ensuring that it is processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. 

Records for absent voters under 16

Only EROs and their staff have access to and are able to make use of data relating to those under 16 years of age. No version of the register or any absent voting lists published or otherwise made available should contain that data. However, the data may be disclosed:2  

  • to the individual themselves (including to demonstrate that they are a permissible donor, in which case the data must be disclosed) or to a person they have appointed as proxy to vote for them
  • for the purposes of a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of polls
  • in a pre-printed canvass communication sent to a household for the annual canvass, although the date of birth of any person aged under 16 years old must not be pre-printed
  • to EROs and Returning Officers in connection with the registration of electors or the conduct of polls.

The only other exception is that before a Scottish Parliamentary or council election, the information on those under 16 years of age who will be eligible to vote at the election (i.e. will attain the age of 16 on or before polling day) can, for the purposes of or in connection with the election, be disclosed in the electoral register, postal voters list, list of proxies and list of postal proxies, that is supplied to:3  

  • candidates at Scottish Parliamentary and council elections for electoral purposes or to comply with the rules on political donations
  • the Returning Officer for the purposes of Scottish Parliamentary or council elections
  • the Electoral Commission - in this case, the Commission is only allowed to use the information in connection with its functions relating to donation controls and publication of information about donors, but the latter does not enable publication of the names and addresses of those under 16 years old

The information supplied before a poll must not contain dates of birth, or anything else that would identify a voter as under 16 years old.

No other individuals or bodies may be supplied with any information relating to those aged under 16 years old.

Before a poll

Ahead of a poll, you should explain to candidates and parties that absent voting lists for that poll are available and set out how a request can be made. If you receive a request for the absent voting lists, you should action it promptly. Sharing absent voting lists with candidates and parties in a timely manner will help promote confidence in the administration of the poll and help candidates and parties to campaign.

A request must be made in writing and specify:4  

  • the information being requested
  • whether the request is for the current lists only, or whether it includes a request for the final list
  • whether the information is required in printed or data form

Updates you need to make to the lists to include the details of those who have absent vote applications determined after the deadline and those who have made successful emergency proxy applications must also be shared with those who have requested a copy of the final lists.5

Ahead of a poll, you must make the absent voting lists available for public inspection as soon as practicable after 5pm on the sixth working day before the poll.6 For more information about making lists available for inspection see our guidance on access and supply.

Supply of personal Identifiers records provided on an absent vote application 

The personal identifiers record (which contains the signatures and dates of birth provided on an absent vote application) are not open to public inspection and are not available for supply. 

You must provide a copy or allow access to the postal voting records to the Returning Officer for the purpose of carrying out the personal identifier checks on returned postal voting statements.7  

Candidates and agents are not entitled to inspect application forms unless it is their own. However, the RO is permitted to show the relevant entry in the personal identifiers record (i.e. the name, signature (unless a waiver has been granted) and date of birth of the relevant voter) to agents when verification is taking place.8  

Additionally, a data subject is entitled to see personal information held about them. Information requested by data subjects must be provided without delay and in any event within one month (although it can be extended to two months in certain conditions).

Under data protection legislation, information must be provided free of charge. Subsequent copies may be charged for, but the charge must be reasonable and based on administrative costs. There is no requirement for the request to be made in writing, you must, however, be satisfied of the requester’s identity before fulfilling the request.

A postal voter who has received a postal vote identifier rejection notice, for example, may request to see their postal voting statement. More information about the inspection of postal vote identifier rejection notices can be found in our FAQs for postal vote rejection notices resource:

Diweddarwyd ddiwethaf: 12 Rhagfyr 2023