The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Observing elections and referendums

One of our roles is to authorise people and organisations to observe UK elections and relevant referendums. On this page you will find:

  • the Code of Practice all observers must follow
  • information on how to apply to become an observer and application forms
  • the registers of accredited observers, organisations and authorised Commission representatives

We also issue:

  • guidance to electoral officers on giving access to observers
  • guidance to our own staff who observe elections and referendums on behalf of the Electoral Commission

Code of Practice for observers

Before applying to become an observer you must read our Code of Practice for observers.

All applicants must sign a declaration on their application form that says they have read and understood the Code of Practice.

How to apply

Organisations and individuals over the age of 16 with an interest in observing elections or referendums can apply to us for accreditation.

We authorise observers, however they do not observe on our behalf, or receive any payment.

For your application to be successful, you need to send us the following:

Please email your application and supporting documents to

Please allow at least ten days for us to process your application. Please do not wait until an election/referendum is imminent as accreditation will not come into effect until three days after we issue your observer ID card.

We may check your personal online political activity (including social media) as detailed in our Privacy Notice.

Observer registers

We maintain the following registers:

Elections and referendums