New Postal Vote Handling Rules

Changes to postal vote handling and secrecy

These provisions will be in effect for polls taking place from 2 May 2024. 

Ban on political campaigners handling postal votes

Political campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes, except where the postal vote is their own, that of a close family member, or someone they provide regular care for. They are not banned from handling postal votes if they do so in the course of their usual duties (for example, if they work for Royal Mail).

A political campaigner is defined in legislation as:

a)    a candidate at the election

b)    an election agent of a candidate at the election

c)    a sub-agent of an election agent at the election

d)    employed or engaged for the purposes of that person’s activities as a candidate

e)    a member of a registered political party and carries on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election

f)    employed or engaged by a registered political party in connection with the party’s political activities

g)    employed or engaged by a person within paragraphs (a) to (f) to carry on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election

h)    employed or engaged by a person within paragraph (g) to carry on an activity designed to promote a particular outcome at the election

If found guilty of handling postal votes as a campaigner, a person could face a fine and/or imprisonment up to two years.

Limits on handing in postal votes at polling stations

There will be a limit on the number of postal votes a person can hand in at a polling station – they will not be allowed to hand in more than five postal ballot packs for other electors plus their own. If a person hands in more than five postal ballot packs for other electors, all the postal votes (other than their own) will be rejected. If there is reason to suspect that a person has already handed in the maximum number of postal votes on any previous occasion at the election, any subsequent postal votes handed in will be rejected. 

Completion of postal vote return form

Anyone handing in postal votes will need to complete a postal vote return form. The person handing in the postal vote(s) will need to complete the form with their name, address and the reason for handing in other people’s postal votes (where appropriate). They will also need to complete a declaration that they are not handing in more than the permitted number, and that they are not a political campaigner.

If the form is not completed with all the required information, or to the authorised officer’s satisfaction, the postal vote(s) will be rejected. Rejected postal votes will not be included in the count. After the election, the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will write to electors who have had their postal votes rejected, telling them why. 

Postal votes which are ‘left behind’

Postal votes will not be accepted if they are simply left at a polling station. If a person hands in postal votes without completing the postal vote return form, the ‘left behind’ postal votes must be rejected.  After the election, the ERO will write to electors who have had their postal vote rejected because they were left behind. 

Handing in postal votes to the Returning Officer

Electors sometimes hand postal votes in directly to the Returning Officer in advance of the election, and on polling day itself. The same restrictions, limits, and requirement to complete a form which apply at polling stations, will also apply to postal votes handed to the Returning Officer or at council offices.  

We will accept postal votes handed in personally at:

  • Solihull Council House, Manor Square, Solihull B91 3QB. 
  • Solihull Connect at The Core, Theatre Square, Solihull B91 3RG
  • Solihull Connect at The Bluebell Centre, Ground Floor West Mall, Chelmsley Wood B37 5TN

Postal votes handed in at any other address will not be accepted as there will be nobody present to provide and sign the postal vote return form. Any postal votes which are left at any council building without the postal vote return form being completed will be rejected. We cannot accept any postal votes which are left in the council mailbox, or which are put in the internal mail system. 

Secrecy requirements extended to postal and proxy votes

The secrecy requirements which apply at a polling station are being extended to postal and proxy votes. It will be an offence to try to find out how someone has voted when completing their postal vote, or to communicate how a postal or proxy voter has voted. Anyone found guilty of breaching the secrecy requirements could face a fine or imprisonment up to six months. 

What does this mean for political campaigners?

Make sure anyone supporting the election campaign understands what a campaigner is and is aware of the ban on handling postal votes. Tell them they can only handle other people’s postal votes if they are a close relative or someone they provide regular care for. Be aware that suspicions of campaigners handling postal votes will be reported to the police.

Please encourage postal voters to return their postal vote via the Royal Mail system in plenty of time. If they have missed the post, let them know they can still hand it in at a Solihull polling station before 10.00pm on polling day but will be required to complete a form. Inform electors of the limit on handing postal votes in at polling stations and council offices – five, plus their own.

Tell them they must complete a form when handing in postal votes, and any left behind at a polling station or council office will be rejected. Ensure electors know postal votes left in council letterboxes will be classed as ‘left behind’ and will be rejected. If you are handling any postal vote application forms, make sure you continue to follow the Electoral Commission’s Code of Conduct for campaigners.

For further information on the changes to postal vote handling, please contact