Councils aren’t using pre-filled postal ballots to suppress the youth vote

26th Nov 2019

Claim

Postal ballots date of birth section is being pre-filled with the year starting “19”, and this could suppress young voter turnout.

Conclusion

Postal voters should receive a ballot with the correct first two digits of their year of birth prefilled; this is to prevent people from erroneously writing the wrong date. If they do receive a ballot with the wrong first two digits, they should just cross them out and write the correct ones.

We’ve seen a few posts going around social media today claiming that the date of birth section on postal ballots is being pre-filled with the year starting “19” like this.There’s been concern raised that this could confuse and may even discourage voters born in 2000 and 2001 who are eligible to vote.

We don’t think there’s anything to be worried about here. We contacted Cheshire West and Chester Council (where one of the postal ballot photos came from). They said that they do pre-fill the date of birth on postal ballots, but that voters born in 2000 or 2001 would receive a ballot prefilled accordingly with “20..” 

That was also the response of Bromley Council (which was claimed to be the source of another of the questioned ballots). They told us that the chance of someone receiving an erroneously pre-filled ballot was very small, but that if anyone born in the 2000s does, they should just cross the “19” out and write their actual year of birth above. 

Postal ballots are pre-filled like this to discourage people from mistakenly writing in the current date, rather than their date of birth.