Postal vote system needs review and improvement says AEA

We agree with the Electoral Management Board in Scotland that the current postal voting system needs review and improvement.

As outlined in our 2021 Blueprint for a Modern Electoral Landscape, we believe earlier deadlines for absent voting applications would better meet electors’ needs, including those living overseas.

The law also prevents Returning Officers from helping electors whose postal vote doesn’t arrive. We want emergency proxy provision to be expanded to include electors who have not received their postal vote.

More than 1.3 million postal vote applications were made between 22 May and 19 June – more than were issued in total for the 1997 General Election. We anticipate postal vote numbers will top 10m at this election, a 20% increase from the 2019 General Election.

Election teams are doing their very best to run this snap election, but with a short timetable – plus print and delivery suppliers working at capacity – demand is overloading the system.

Printing postal votes is a complicated process. Personalised postal vote statements must be matched with the correct ballot paper, personalised envelopes and instruction sheets. Election teams also need to carry out security checks adding to the time needed to prepare and send ballot papers out.

Closing applications 16 working days before a poll, rather than the current 11, would increase capacity to process, print and post out ballot packs – and crucially give voters more time to post them back.

Previous general election postal votes numbers

  • 2019  8.2m
  • 2017  8.4m
  • 2015  7.6m
  • 2010  6.9m
  • 2005  5.4m
  • 2001  1.76m
  • 1997  937k