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

Maintaining the integrity of the election

Voters and campaigners should be confident that:

  • elections are free from fraud
  • votes cast will be counted in the way that voters intended
  • the results you declare are true and accurate 

Trust and confidence in the integrity of elections is essential but can be fragile. It will be difficult for you to rebuild trust or confidence which has been lost as a result of allegations or proven cases of fraud. 

You should put in place effective strategies for preventing electoral fraud from the outset. You will also need to be prepared to work with the police and prosecutors to subsequently investigate any allegations which might be made. 

You should cover your approach to tackling electoral fraud with parties, candidates and agents at briefing sessions and as part of any written information provided to them. You should also invite the police to attend any such briefing sessions and invite them to supply you with any relevant documentation to include in your information pack.

This guidance deals specifically with the risk of electoral fraud in relation to election processes. Information on dealing with integrity issues related to fraudulant registration or absent vote applications can be found in the ERO guidance:

Identifying suspicious registration applications in England, Scotland and Wales

Identifying suspicious absent vote applications in England, Scotland and Wales

Offences

There are a number of electoral offences specified in electoral law. Our guidance for candidates and agents provides information on these offences

Dealing with allegations of financial offences

Candidates and their agents must follow rules set out in legislation about how much they can spend at an election. We produce guidance for candidates and agents, parties and non-party campaigners outlining rules on spending. 

Any queries on election spending should be referred to the Electoral Commission’s Party Election Finance team via email: pef@electoralcommission.org.uk or telephone: 0333 103 1928
 

Last updated: 7 February 2024