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

Accredited Observers and Commission representatives

Observers accredited by the Commission are entitled to observe: 

  • the issue and receipt of postal ballot papers
  • the poll
  • the verification and counting of the votes1  

Your project plan should include processes to manage potential enquiries from observers and to support their attendance at the electoral processes they are entitled to attend. This should include providing observers with information on the location and timing of the above processes.

Commission representatives are also entitled to observe these processes and, in addition, are entitled to observe your working practices.2  

Accredited observers and Commission representatives do not need to give advance notification of where they intend to observe, but will carry with them a photographic identification card issued by the Commission.

Quick guide to the observer badge types

Observer badge typeWho are they?Access
Electoral Commission representativesSame as candidates and agents, plus access to the issue of postal votes, and working practices of the (A)RO and ERO
Observers accredited by the Commission
Same as candidates and agents, plus access to the issue of postal votes

If you are in doubt about the status of a particular individual seeking to gain access to election processes, you can check the registers of observers on the Commission’s website

You have a legal duty to have regard to the Commission’s Code of practice for observers when managing the attendance of observers.3 Observers will have agreed to comply with the standards of behaviour set out in the Commission’s Code of practice. If you think there has been a breach of the Code of practice, please inform your local Commission team.


Last updated: 26 April 2024