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

Appointing verification and count staff

To ensure that voters can have confidence that their vote will be counted in the way they intended, you will need to put in place appropriate staff resources to ensure the verification and count are timely. 

It is important that you ensure there are the right number of competent, skilled and knowledgeable staff – and that each member of staff is clear about their role – so that the count is run efficiently and effectively and according to the principles for an effective verification and count. You should also ensure there is an appropriate number of reserve staff in case of staff absence on the day of the count.

You should consider appointing:

  • senior staff to assist with the overall operation and co-ordination of processes and the calculation of the result
  • staff and supervisors to deal with the secure transportation of the sealed boxes of postal ballot papers to the verification venue 
  • staff and supervisors to deal with the receipt of polling station materials and postal votes
  • staff and supervisors to deal with the final opening of postal votes
  • staff and supervisors to deal with the verification of used and unused ballot papers, spoilt ballot papers and the tendered votes list
  • staff and supervisors to deal with the sorting and counting of votes
  • porters, security staff and door attendants to deal with the security of the site
  • person(s) with knowledge of the site to deal with the management of the facilities within and around the site
  • responsible officer(s) to oversee the security of ballot boxes and relevant stationery where there is a break in proceedings or where ballot papers need to be packaged up and delivered to another venue at the end of verification
  • experienced media liaison staff
  • any other members of staff you consider necessary

While it may not be realistic to expect all verification and count staff to be fully utilised at every stage of the verification and count process, a responsive management plan which monitors activity levels and allows for reallocation of resources could reduce the length of time taken to complete key stages of the process.

When developing your plans for staffing the verification and count, you will need to bear in mind that there is a requirement under the legislation to take reasonable steps to begin counting the votes as soon as practicable and within four hours of the close of poll. There will also be an expectation among candidates, parties and the media for results to be declared as soon as possible and this too will need to be kept in mind in determining staffing requirements. 

For processes commenced immediately following the close of poll, you should wherever possible not use staff who have been on polling station duty all day.

You must not appoint any person who has been employed by or on behalf of a candidate in or about the election.1  

Last updated: 19 December 2023