Guidance for (Acting) Returning Officers administering a UK Parliamentary election in Great Britain

Postal ballot paper, postal voting statement, and additional instructions to voters

Postal ballot paper

The form of the ballot paper is prescribed in legislation and you have a legal duty to follow this precisely.1 Further information can be found in our guidance on the printing of ballot papers

Postal voting statement 

The postal voting statement is set out in the legislation and must be produced in the prescribed form.2 The postal voting statement must include:

  • the voter’s name (unless they are an anonymous elector) 
  • the number of the ballot paper being issued with the statement  
  • a unique identifying mark, which could be a barcode but could also be in another format - this mark does not have to be connected to the unique identifying mark on the ballot paper; it may be the same but equally it could be different or connected 
  • the prescribed instructions to the voter on how to vote by post

The postal voting statement also contains space for a barcode.

You must produce different forms of the postal voting statement for anonymous electors and for those who have been granted a waiver. The postal voting statement for anonymous electors must not show the name of the elector.
Where an elector has been granted a waiver by the ERO, you are required by legislation to omit the signature box and any reference to signing the form in the instructions to voters.

You should also design and test the postal vote statements to ensure that the signature and date of birth fields are in the correct place and format to be able to be processed on their return by your personal identifier verification system.

Additional instructions to voters

In addition to the prescribed content of the postal ballot pack as above, you should provide additional, more specific instructions - for example, graphical instructions for voters to help them complete the statement and ballot paper and return their postal vote stationery in the correct envelopes and information on the postal vote handing in process (for polls on or after 2 May 2024).
You should include the information that you must provide to postal voters on how to obtain instructions in alternative formats e.g. alternative languages, braille, and audio.
As part of these instructions, you should also include information explaining the personal nature of the vote, setting out that it is secret and that anyone interfering with the voter marking their vote or attempting to obtain information about who they are voting for would be committing an offence. As well as information on how to report any concerns or suspected instances of electoral fraud. 

Last updated: 28 March 2024