Running electoral registration - Scotland

Emergency proxies

An elector may appoint an emergency proxy at a poll up to 5pm on polling day in the following circumstances:1  

  • in the case of a medical condition, illness or disability arising after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
  • if they are a mental health patient detained under civil powers
  • if their occupation, service or employment means they cannot go to the polling station in person and they became aware of this after the deadline for ordinary proxy applications
  • if they meet any of the conditions relating to emergency proxies on the grounds of voter identification after the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate or Anonymous Elector’s Document at UK parliamentary elections 

At Scottish Parliamentary and local council elections, if a person becomes disabled before 5pm, 6 working days before polling day and the person’s disability meant that they could not reasonably be expected by virtue of that disability to have made an application before the deadline for an ordinary proxy, they may apply for an emergency proxy, but they must provide an explanation of why they were unable to apply before the ordinary deadline.2  

Emergency proxies on the grounds of voter identification at UK parliamentary elections3  

The grounds on which an elector can appoint an emergency proxy relating to voter identification are covered in our guidance on emergency proxy on grounds relating to voter identification.

Any application under this provision must state that it is made on the grounds of voter identification and include which of the acceptable conditions apply to the applicant.

An application made on the grounds of voter identification does not require an attestation.

The ground of voter identification also enables a change to the person appointed as proxy.4  

Emergency change of proxy at council elections

At council elections, an elector may apply to change their appointed proxy if the circumstances of the appointed proxy on the day of poll will be or are likely to be such that they cannot reasonably be expected to vote at the polling station.5  

A proxy who is voting by post cannot be changed under this provision.

Where the change is made to a definite or indefinite proxy arrangement, the person newly appointed as proxy remains as the proxy until the proxy arrangement ends or the elector applies to make another change.6  

In these cases, you should inform the elector in a confirmation letter that, unless a new application is made to change the person appointed as proxy, the person most recently appointed will remain appointed until the proxy arrangement ends. 

For more information, see changing or cancelling a proxy vote.

Proxy vote application deadline for a prisoner (serving a sentence of 12 months or less)

At Scottish Parliamentary and council elections, a person detained in a penal institution (to serve a sentence of 12 months or less) may apply for a proxy vote until 5pm on polling day.7 The application must state that the applicant is detained and include the name of the penal institution.8  

Last updated: 12 December 2023