By Moya O’Donnell
Voters will be heading back to the polls for a General Election, two and a half years since the last one took place. Ballots will be cast on December 12 after MPs backed Boris Johnson’s call for an election to break the Brexit deadlock.
For voters in Northern Ireland this is the third time this year that they will go to the polls. As polling day is fast approaching it is extremely likely that many voters will be unable to cast their ballots in person. There are options available for those who can’t be there in person: proxy votes and postal votes.
Voting by proxy simply means that someone nominate another person to vote on their behalf if they can’t be there in person. Proxy votes are only allowed under certain circumstances. These include being away on polling day, medical issues or disabilities. Allowances are also away for those who are away for work reasons or for military services.
A proxy voter must be someone who is registered to vote and who can vote in the polling station given on the absentee’s polling card. Voters in Northern Ireland must apply using a separate application form than those in the rest of the UK. The form must be returned no later than 14 days before the date of the election.
Anyone who is registered to vote can apply for a postal vote. Once registered to vote by post, near the time of the election a ballot paper will be sent out. Theythen complete it as normal and send it back to the electoral office.
Postal votes can be particularly useful for students who are living away from their home constituencies. They can choose to vote in either their home constituency or their at term one. Only one vote can be cast however so they must decide where they would like to vote.
In Northern Ireland the closing date for a applying for a postal or proxy vote is November 21 by 5pm. the application form for both can be found at www.eoni.org.uk/vote/voting-by-post-or-proxy