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

Responsibility for sealing and retaining election documents

You have a legal duty to seal up the election documents listed below and, on the completion of the counting of ballot papers, must forward these to the relevant registration officer in England and Wales, or retain them in Scotland.1   

If you are not also the ERO, the ERO will need to ensure that they have a mechanism in place to record the date of receipt, so they know when to destroy the documents that have been forwarded. 

The following lists contain the documents you must forward to the ERO in England and Wales, or retain as RO in Scotland. 

Documents from polling stations:2  

  • The packets containing:
    • list of tendered votes 
    • list of voters with disabilities assisted by companions 
    • declarations made by companions of voters with disabilities 
    • list of votes marked by the Presiding Officer 
    • statements relating to votes marked by the Presiding Officer 
    • list of persons to whom ballot papers are delivered after the correction of a clerical error or as a result of a decision on an appeal to the county court 
    • BPRL
    • VIDEF and VIDEF notes sheet
  • marked copies of the register of electors, the marked list of proxies and any marked copy notices issued as a result of the correction of a clerical error or a decision on an appeal to the relevant court 
  • the packets containing the completed polling station corresponding number lists 
  • certificates of employment on duty on polling day

Documents from the postal vote issues and openings:3  

  • marked copies of the postal voters’ list and postal proxy voters’ list
  • the packets containing the completed postal vote corresponding number lists 
  • the packets of postal voting statements accepted as valid 
  • the packets of rejected postal votes
  • the packet of rejected postal votes rejected at the point it was handed in (or left behind) at a polling station or at the council offices and the accompanying completed postal vote return forms (from elections on or after 2 May 2024) 
  • the packets of rejected postal ballot paper envelopes
  • the lists of cancelled, lost and spoilt postal ballot papers
  • the packet of spoilt postal ballot papers and accompanying documents
  • the packet of lost postal ballot papers containing any part of the postal ballot pack that was not lost and which was returned to you before you issued a replacement
  • the packet of postal ballot papers, statements and envelopes that have been cancelled
  • the packet of completed postal vote return forms for rejected postal votes and the relevant rejected postal votes (for elections on or after 2 May 2024)
  • the packet of completed postal vote return forms for rejected postal votes (and the relevant rejected postal votes (from elections on or after 2 May 2024)
  • the packet of completed postal vote handling forms for accepted postal votes (from elections on or after 2 May 2024)
  • unopened postal ballot packs received after the close of poll or returned as undelivered (these can be forwarded at a subsequent date)

All ROs in England and Wales must forward to the relevant ERO, or retain in Scotland

  • the packet of postal vote return forms for postal votes rejected when handed into a polling station or at the council offices 4
  • the statement as to postal ballot papers
  • the relevant parts of the list of postal votes that have failed the identifier checks
  • the list relating to postal votes rejected when handed in at a polling station or the council offices5

    The ERO will use this information to enable them to send postal vote identifier rejection notices to those electors. You can find further information on this process within our ERO guidance for England, Scotland and Wales

    You should also forward at the same time your record of any instances where you suspect an offence may have been committed, so that the EROs know in which cases they should not send out a postal vote identifier rejection notice.4   

    For further information on the contents of the various lists relating to postal voting, see our guidance on Keeping records of the receipt and opening of postal votes

Documents from the count:5  

  • all ballot papers separately stored as:
    • counted ballot papers
    • rejected ballot papers
    • unused ballot papers (both ordinary and tendered) and spoilt ballot papers (placed together) 
    • used tendered ballot papers
  • ballot paper accounts, the result of the verification of the ballot paper accounts and the statement of rejected ballot papers
Last updated: 20 February 2024