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

Security considerations at the verification and count

You should consider the security risks of the verification and count as part of your integrity planning and include them on your risk register. Security risks may vary within the electoral area and you may need to take a different approach in particular instances. You should consider liaising with your local police single point of contact (SPOC) when deciding on the most appropriate method for transporting and ensuring secure storage of ballot boxes and other materials

We have developed a template risk and issues register that you can use to record any risks you identify. It contains examples that you will need to consider and, if necessary, mitigate, as well as a log to record any issues that emerge and that you will need to address. Alternatively, you may wish to include risks including our examples in any risk management documentation you have already developed.

At the count venue, you should arrange to have robust arrangements in place to check in all the materials and paperwork delivered to ensure that nothing is missing.
You need to decide how the ballot papers and other materials will be kept secure once they arrive at the verification and count venue, for example, by ensuring they are never left unattended. 

You should also take all necessary steps to ensure the security of ballot boxes and relevant stationery from the close of poll through to the declaration of the result, particularly where there is a break in proceedings

Where there is a pause in proceedings for the whole or any part of the period between 7pm and 9am the next day, you have a legal duty to place the documents under your seal and to take proper precautions for the security of the papers and documents. You should liaise with your SPOC on this.

You will need to have contingency arrangements in place in the event of any evacuation from any premises and consider how you will ensure the security of the ballot boxes and other materials.

You should also brief candidates and agents about your security arrangements, so that they can have confidence in the integrity of the count.

Last updated: 19 December 2023