I have just voted by post for the 2024 London mayoral and GLA elections and, as well as the usual shuffle of multiple ballot papers and double envelopes, I had to sign an envelope and include my date of birth.

The date-of-birth section requested a dd-mm-yyyy format and looked like ☐☐ ☐☐ 19☐☐ before I completed it. This was no problem for me and the 19☐☐ helped me avoid putting in today's date accidentally, but this would not be practical for any voter born in or after 2000 and now 18-24 years old.

I have checked this was not just a London issue and somebody in Cambridge saw the same thing on their postal votes for elections there. I do not know anybody young enough and with a postal vote to ask; the youngest I managed was born in 1997.

Are different envelopes printed for young postal voters which use 20☐☐?

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    I rolled back an edit which had removed the boxes, as they are an intrinsic part of the question
    – Henry
    Apr 15 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


Yes, different envelopes are printed. This came up during the 2019 general election, with some social media posts claiming that this was a deliberate decision to suppress young voter turnout.

The fact-checking charity Full Fact published a fact-check on this, having contacted a few councils to request an explanation. All of the councils confirmed that if the voter was born in the 21st century, their postal ballot pack will be prepended with '20' rather than '19'. As you suggest, the reason for partially filling in the date field is to avoid voters writing in the current date, rather than their date of birth.

Bromley Council added that while the chance of a voter receiving a pack with the year number incorrectly filled in was very small, the voter "should just cross the '19' out and write their actual year of birth above".

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    If the current date is listed rather than the birthdate, is the vote invalid? If so, whether deliberate or not, I would expect this to disproportionately suppress young voter turnout as only those born in the 1900s have the benefit of the reminder. Apr 15 at 16:59
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    @BryanKrause yes, the vote is rejected at the verification stage, and the returning officer writes to the elector to explain why.
    – CDJB
    Apr 15 at 17:51
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    An obvious question, then, is why not just include the full year.
    – Obie 2.0
    Apr 15 at 22:19
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    @Obie2.0 presumably having to know your own year of birth helps authentication. Your neighbours receiving your post may know when your birthday is without knowing how old you are.
    – Henry
    Apr 16 at 9:01
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    @Obie2.0 it's all tricks to make people believe "they are doing something" and not simply checking some random boxes. See the history of pre-made food: psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inside-the-box/201401/…
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 16 at 12:18

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