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Council elections in Scotland (2012 - 2016)

On this page, you will find all of our guidance and resources for Returning Officers administering local government elections in Scotland.

This guidance is intended for non-scheduled by-elections and does not cover guidance for Returning Officers who are administering local government elections taking place in Scotland on 4 May 2017. For guidance on administering local government elections in Scotland on Thursday 4 May 2017, please click here.

If you want to download emblems for political parties, visit our online database.

Please note that the guidance on these pages has not been updated since the last scheduled local government elections in Scotland, which took place on 3 May 2012. This means that the guidance does not include updates to legislation which have taken place since 2012, for example legislation to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote at local government elections in Scotland. Therefore it should not be solely relied on for polls taking place after 3 May 2012.

An addendum sheet, highlighting changes for polling station staff, which should be used to supplement the polling station staff handbook and quick guide is available here.

If you have questions about the guidance, or changes in legislation, please contact the Commission team at the Scotland Office.

Part B

Planning and organisation

This part covers:

  • Planning (including the identification and training of staff, the selection and booking of venues and management of contractors and suppliers)
  • How to maintain the integrity of the election
  • Raising awareness
  • Access to proceedings by electoral observers and Commission representatives

Part B: Planning and organisation (PDF)

Part C

Administering the poll

This part covers:

  • The nomination period (including access to the register by candidates, spending limits and the nominations process)
  • The production of notices, poll cards and ballot papers
  • Polling station voting

Part C: Administering the poll (PDF)

Part D

Absent voting

This part covers:

  • The absent voting timetable
  • Proxy voting
  • Preparations for absent voting processes and the production of stationery
  • Procedures for the issue, receipt and opening of postal votes

Part D: Absent voting (PDF)

Part E

Verifying and counting the votes

This part covers:

  • The principles for an effective verification and count
  • Preparations for the count
  • Managing the verification and count
  • Verification and count procedures

Part E: Verifying and counting the votes (PDF)

Part F

After the declaration of result

This part covers:

  • Storage and disposal of documents
  • Post-election activities
  • Challenges to the result
  • Review of election procedures

Part F: After the declaration of result (PDF)

Electoral administrator