Running electoral registration - Scotland

Eligibility to vote by proxy

You should ensure that electors are made aware that they have the option to vote by post, proxy or in person. This will allow them to make an informed choice about the option that is most appropriate to their circumstances. 

Electors who are or will be registered are entitled to apply for a proxy vote. For someone to meet the will be registered criteria, the five day objection period must have passed and you must have positively determined their registration application, which means they will be added to the register on publication of the next notice of alteration or on publication of the revised register, whichever is first.1  

A proxy vote arrangement can be in place for one of the following:2  

  • an indefinite period
  • a definite period
  • a particular poll

Reasons for making an application to vote by proxy for a definite or indefinite period 

While everyone is entitled to a proxy vote at a particular poll, applications for a definite or indefinite period require a specific reason.

These reasons are:3  

  • blindness
  • other disability (the disability must be specified)
  • occupation/employment/service/attendance on a course (details must be provided)
  • registered as a service voter or overseas voter
  • registered as an anonymous elector
  • journey necessary by sea or air to get from the registered address to their polling station
  • prisoners convicted to a term of 12 months or less4  

In some cases, an attestation in support of the application is also required. More information can be found in our guidance on attestations.

Voting by proxy at a particular poll 

Applications for a proxy vote for a particular poll only require the applicant to give a reason for voting by proxy.5  

There are many reasons why a person may decide to vote by proxy at a particular poll. If no explanation of the reason is given on the application, it will be incomplete and you should write to the elector to ask them to provide an explanation. If no explanation is provided, you should reject the application on the grounds that it does not meet the prescribed requirements.

The decision as to whether a reason given is satisfactory is made at your discretion. However, you cannot reject a proxy vote application solely on the grounds that you are not satisfied with the explanation. You should accept applications at face value. If the reason does cause suspicion, or if you have concerns because of other circumstances linking the application to others in the area, or to a particular address, this should be reported to your police Single Point of Contact (SPOC). 

Last updated: 12 December 2023