What were the postal vote figures in the 2023 Tamworth UK by-election? I have looked in many places online and could not find them (if they were published)
The postal vote figures weren't read out by the acting returning officer at the declaration, and they aren't included in the results published on Tamworth Borough Council's website.
The only source I've been able to find for the number of postal votes cast is the X (formerly Twitter) feed of a Staffordshire local democracy reporter who was at the count, which puts the number of postal votes at 9,037 (about 35% of the total number of votes cast at the by-election). This tweet was posted about two hours before the declaration and was correct vis-a-vis the total number of votes cast, so I'm inclined to give it some credibility.
To deal with the more general case: as far as I can tell, the returning officer:
- is required to count the total number of postal votes (for eventual publication)
- is prohibited from counting the number of postal votes cast for each candidate.
The first of those is mentioned in the guidance for returning officers from the Electoral Commission, in turn referencing regulation 91 of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001. The guidance also states that this information must be sent to the Electoral Commission and the relevant Secretary of State - but not until at least 10 days after the election.
The second comes from section 45 (1A) of Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1983, which says:
The returning officer shall not count the votes given on any ballot papers until—
(a) in the case of postal ballot papers, they have been mixed with the ballot papers from at least one ballot box, and
So if you're looking for how many postal votes were cast for each candidate, it looks like that information is never recorded.