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

Booking suitable polling stations

As part of any Polling Place Review, you should evaluate the suitability of the polling stations that are available for use in the appropriate electoral areas.

It is essential that polling stations provide sufficient space for voting to take place.

Ideally, you will have the choice of a range of fully accessible buildings, conveniently located for electors in the area, with owners willing to hire them out for polling station use at low cost. Unfortunately, in practice, this is often not the case and in some areas there may be little choice available. 

You will need to take access needs into account when planning the layout and set up of polling stations to ensure that all voters receive a high-quality service. This should include disabled voters who may need additional equipment or seating. More guidance is available on the types of equipment you may need to consider in our guidance on providing equipment at the polling station.

The size of polling stations should be big enough to enable a clear flow of voters to try to reduce the risk of congestion or queues. You will also need to ensure there is an area identified for checking photographic ID in private, if requested. 

 

You should be able to demonstrate that assessments have been conducted of the polling stations to be used at the election. Where access problems exist, you should document the problems, identify potential improvements and record any action taken to try to remedy these problems.

You should ensure that any additional equipment required to make the polling station accessible will be delivered and set up before the opening of the poll.

The polling station handbook provides further information on how to set up polling stations to ensure they are accessible for all voters.

Polling station handbook – UK Parliamentary election (PDF) - We are updating this resource to reflect new measures introduced by the Elections Act 2022. It will be available again once the updates have been completed. If you are running a UK Parliamentary by-election you should contact your local Commission team for support and advice.

Last updated: 19 December 2023