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

Assessing and managing the risk of electoral fraud

Although there are no definitive signs of possible electoral fraud, you will need to have in place mechanisms to identify any patterns of activity that might indicate potential electoral fraud. You should be aware of and consider all the data which is available to you, including whether there:

  • have been unusual patterns of rejected ballot papers, including rejected postal ballot packs, at previous elections
  • are any unusual patterns of registration or absent vote applications in the period leading up to the election

We also have further guidance on identifying suspicious:

You are uniquely placed to identify incidents and patterns of activity that might indicate electoral fraud in your area. Taking early action to address possible fraud could help to avoid costly police investigations or legal challenges to the results of elections. 

You should ensure that you have mechanisms in place to assess the risk of electoral fraud in your area, including considering:

  • whether there has been a history of allegations of electoral fraud in the area 
  • whether the election is likely to be particularly close and hard fought
  • whether it is a marginal seat, which would need only a relatively small swing in the number of votes to change control
  • whether there is a contest based on strong personal disagreements as well as political arguments
  • risks where there is a highly mobile population with a frequent turnover of electors
  • risks where there are electors who may be more vulnerable because of low levels of literacy and/or English language ability
Last updated: 31 May 2023