Guidance for (Acting) Returning Officers administering a UK Parliamentary election in Great Britain

Quality assuring the issuing process

You are responsible for ensuring that the issuing of postal votes is carried out in accordance with legislation, regardless of whether you have outsourced the process.

The contents of the postal vote pack are prescribed and you should ensure that all the relevant details have been included on those materials. You can find more information on what must be included in the postal vote pack and how to quality assure the production process in our guidance: Production of postal voting stationery.

You should also ensure that you have arrangements in place which enable you to quality-assure the end-to-end postal vote issuing process including:

  • where you have outsourced the issuing process, having a member of staff in attendance when postal votes are being issued, with knowledge of the agreed specifications
  • checking the correct details are on the stationery and that packs are properly collated with all required elements
  • checking the packs at the start and end of polling districts
  • carrying out random spot checks with a ratio of at least two packs per 250 postal ballot packs within polling districts so a representative cross-section can be checked across your area and within each batch
  • checking that packs being sent to overseas addresses contain a reply envelope that is capable of being used overseas
  • keeping an audit trail of the stationery that has been checked and processes that have been undertaken 

You should pay particular attention to checking that:

  • the ballot paper number on the reverse of the ballot paper exactly matches the ballot paper number on the accompanying postal voting statement
  • the name of the elector on the postal voting statement matches the name of the elector on the outgoing envelope
  • all required items are in the outgoing envelope

If you have outsourced the issuing process, discussions to facilitate these checks should occur at the time the contract is negotiated and be reflected in it.

Last updated: 19 December 2023