If you’re living in France, or plan to be there during the general election in December, you have two options for voting: by postal vote or by proxy vote. Concerns over unreliable postal systems have resulted in people being urged to opt for a proxy vote to stand the best chance of having your voice heard. Let’s take a look at how to set up a proxy vote from France, and why it might be a better choice.
What is a proxy vote?
Voting by proxy means you choose a trusted person to vote on your behalf. They can do this in person at your polling station, or via post.
Who can act as a proxy?
Your proxy voter must be eligible to vote in the election or referendum that is taking place and must be registered to vote. They don’t have to be a relation, but a person can only act as a proxy for close relatives and two additional people at the same election, so check whether your chosen person is allowed to act as your proxy.
Ideally your proxy should be in the area where your vote will be returned so they can deliver your vote to the correct polling station. If this is impossible your proxy can send your vote via post, which could stand a better chance of arriving on time than relying on international mail, especially so close to Christmas. They must do this by 5pm up to 11 days before the vote is due to take place, so plan this carefully in advance. You don’t want to miss your chance to vote because of snail mail mishaps!
Your proxy should be someone reliable and trustworthy. You are entrusting them with selecting your chosen candidate and delivering your ballot paper, so be wise in your selection.
Who is allowed to vote by proxy?
You must be eligible to vote in the general election, and make sure you are registered to vote in time. Then you have to apply for your proxy vote and be accepted.
How do I apply for a proxy vote from France?
If your Electoral Office is in England, Scotland or Wales you must complete the paper form and return it via post (unless your local Electoral Office will accept a scanned copy via email). Your application must be received by 5pm on 4th December.
If you’re voting in Northern Ireland, you are required to submit a reason that you cannot vote in person. You must fill in a form and return it by 5pm on 21st November.
How does my proxy enter my vote?
Ahead of polling day your proxy will receive a polling card for your vote. This will either be in the form of a postal voting pack or a normal polling card for them to return to your polling station. If this does not arrive, they should contact the electoral services team at your local council to find out where to vote for you and confirm that your applications and registrations are all in order.
They should then attend the appropriate polling station on polling day and enter your vote as they would their own.
Why should I use a proxy vote?
How you vote, and whether you vote, is entirely up to you. However, advocacy groups have suggested that proxy voting could be more reliable, as voters abroad have been frustrated by failures in the postal system in the past. Many people living abroad have not received their postal voting packs in time or been able to return their votes to be counted.
Even if you’re planning to live in France indefinitely, the result of this general election could have a significant impact on your rights and freedoms, particularly when it comes to Brexit negotiations. If you wish to vote, make sure you take all the necessary measures as soon as you can. You voice matters, so make sure it is heard.
Please note all times are in GMT. If you are unsure of your eligibility to vote in the general election on 12th December 2019 contact your Electoral Office for help and guidance.