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Electorate warned about new rules for handling postal votes ahead of May elections

Fenland residents who vote by post are being advised of changes to postal vote handling to avoid falling foul of the new rules at next month's elections.

The Government's Elections Act 2022 introduced a number of important changes to the way we vote, including changes to postal vote handling which come into force for the first time at the elections taking place on Thursday, May 2.

In Fenland, there will an election for the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Cambridgeshire area, and by-elections for two wards on Whittlesey Town Council.

People are being warned over new rules for handling postal votes
People are being warned over new rules for handling postal votes

The new election rules mean postal voters must now complete and sign a 'postal vote return' form when hand-delivering a postal vote pack at a polling station or the Fenland District Council offices at Fenland Hall in County Road, March.

Completed postal vote packs can no longer be posted in the letter box at the council offices (Fenland Hall).

They must be handed in by person, and the relevant form completed, within office hours, 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Return forms can also be completed and signed at polling stations on election day.

Failure to complete the postal vote return form means the vote must be rejected.

A limit on the number of postal votes which can be hand-delivered by a single voter has also been introduced, with a voter now only allowed to hand-deliver up to five votes belonging to other electors, plus their own (six in total).

If a person hands in more than five postal votes for other electors, they must choose five only or all the postal votes (other than their own) will be rejected.

Fenland District Council is encouraging electors to return postal votes via Royal Mail, in the pre-paid envelope included with the ballot papers, as this removes the requirement to complete the 'postal vote return' form.

A council spokesperson said: "Returning your postal vote through Royal Mail is the quickest and easiest way to make sure your vote counts at the elections.

"We have put signage on the letter box at Fenland Hall in March to advise postal voters of the new rules and deter them from hand-delivering postal votes.

"However, if we receive hand-delivered postal votes without a signed return form they will be rejected."

- Residents who vote at a polling station are also being reminded of the need to produce photo ID in order to receive a ballot paper - a change first introduced under the Elections Act 2022 at the elections in May 2023.

More information, including acceptable forms of photo ID and how to apply for free voter ID if you don't have any photo ID, is available on our Voter ID webpage.

- If you have any questions contact the Elections Team at Fenland District Council at: elections@fenland.gov.uk or call 01354 654321.

- More information on the elections taking place on May 2 is available on the Elections 2024 webpage.

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