Our role in elections and referendums
On this page you can read about what we do to support well-run elections and referendums in the UK.
Elections in Great Britain
Elections in Great Britain are run by independent Returning Officers (ROs) based in each local authority area.
We give ROs guidance about how to deliver well-run elections and monitor how well they perform against performance standards.
Elections in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, the Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for running elections.
We are currently developing standards with the Chief Electoral Officer for how well-run elections should be delivered in Northern Ireland.
For referendums in the UK we look at the way the proposed referendum question is worded to make sure it is easy for voters to understand.
- Read our guidelines for assessing referendum questions (PDF)
- Read our assessments of previous referendum questions
For UK-wide referendums the Chair of the Electoral Commission will be the Chief Counting Officer, who is responsible for certifying and announcing the result of the referendum.
The Chief Counting Officer appoints Counting Officers to run the referendum poll in each local area, and can give them directions telling them how to run specific parts of the referendum poll.
Public awareness work
We run public awareness campaigns in the run-up to elections and referendums to make sure people know:
- when the polls are taking place
- how to register to vote and by when they need to register in order to be able to vote
- how to vote in the polls
Reporting on elections
Each year we publish reports on how well elections were run and make recommendations to improve future elections. We also publish reports following referendums.
We also publish information about what parties, candidates and campaigners received in donations and spent on campaigning ahead of a poll.