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Final day to apply for postal vote in General Election

Postal voting at general elections has surged in popularity over the past two decades (Paul Melling/Alamy)
Postal voting at general elections has surged in popularity over the past two decades (Paul Melling/Alamy)

Anyone intending to vote by post in the General Election but who has yet to apply for a ballot paper has only a few hours left to do so.

The deadline to submit a postal vote application for people in England, Scotland and Wales is 5pm on Wednesday.

The deadline for people in Northern Ireland has already passed.

Applications can be made online at gov.uk/apply-postal-vote.

Postal voting has surged in popularity in recent years.

The proportion of votes cast by post never rose higher than 5% at any general election between 1945 and 2001, according to data compiled by the House of Commons Library.

A chart showing the proportion of votes cast by post in UK general elections from 1945 to 2019
Votes cast by post in UK general elections (PA Graphics)

Legislation was passed in the UK in 2000 that eased some of the rules regarding postal voting – in effect making it available on demand – but the changes were not fully in place at the 2001 election.

By the time of the 2005 election, postal voting on demand was fully in place and the proportion of votes cast this way jumped sharply to 12.7%.

The figure then increased at each subsequent general election, hitting 21.7% in 2017.

It fell slightly in 2019 to 21.0%, but this still means at least one in five votes has been cast by post at each of the three most recent general elections.

Local councils are responsible for sending postal ballot forms to voters.

Completed postal votes must have reached councils by 10pm on polling day, July 4.

They can be returned by post or handed in at council offices.

They can also be handed in at a polling station on election day.

Evidence shared on social media suggests some people have already received and returned their completed postal votes, even though there are still more than two weeks of the campaign to go.