Postal voters urged to submit new applications

Registered postal voters in Hackney are being asked to reapply to ensure they can vote by post in local and regional elections in May – following disruption caused by a serious cyberattack on Hackney Council. 

The Council has today written to all existing postal voters to ask them to submit a new postal vote application form, after organised criminals damaged part of its elections computer system in October’s attack.

There is no evidence that any postal voting data was stolen in the attack or has been published, but Council officers need to ask residents to re-apply so that their postal votes can be verified in elections.

Affected voters are still registered to vote in person at a polling station, but without submitting a new application will not be able to vote by post in May – which the Council is encouraging all voters to do, as social distancing rules will mean polling stations will be busier and slower than normal.

It’s easy to register to vote by post – either by returning the form using the prepaid envelope if we have written to you, or downloading it and returning by post or email if you’re registering for the first time. 

Elections are scheduled on 6 May for the Mayor of London and London Assembly, with Council by-elections in Stamford Hill West, Kings Park, Hoxton East & Shoreditch and Woodberry Down wards.

Tim Shields, Chief Executive of Hackney Council and Electoral Registration Officer
I’m really sorry for the additional disruption that this attack by organised criminals is continuing to cause residents – and I share their anger and frustration.

I know that many people may be concerned about their personal data, but there is no evidence to suggest that their postal vote registration data has been stolen or published online.

Due to coronavirus, voting will be different this year, and we are encouraging as many people as possible to register to vote by post to reduce pressure on polling stations and the social distancing we will need to follow to help keep everyone safe.
Tim Shields, Chief Executive of Hackney Council and Electoral Registration Officer

Around 100 registered postal voters who have a signature waiver – for reasons such as a disability – are not affected and do not need to reapply. The Council has recovered its election system onto a modern, cloud-based platform and are working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre and other cyber security experts to make sure that our systems are secure.

How will voting be different this year?

Polling stations will look different, be busier than normal and it may take more time than usual to vote in person. To keep everyone safe and to meet coronavirus rules, changes are likely to mean: 

  • You may have to wait in a socially distanced queue, as fewer people will be allowed inside
  • You’ll need to wear a face covering and sanitise your hands 
  • You’ll be encouraged to bring your own pen or pencil
  • Polling booths will be regularly disinfected
  • Perspex screens will separate polling staff from voters
  • If you’ve tested positive for coronavirus or are self-isolating, you’ll be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote

How you can help

  • Register for a postal vote, so you don’t need to attend a polling station
  • Make sure to post your vote as soon as possible after receiving it, rather than depositing it at a polling station
  • If voting in person, visit your polling station at quieter times such as the late morning and early afternoon
  • Make things quicker by bringing your poll card, following the instructions of polling staff and coming prepared with your face covering and pen or pencil