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

Providing information on key election processes

As part of your plans for engaging with candidates and agents and supporting their participation in the election, you will need to determine how information about local arrangements will be provided to candidates. 

Local arrangements will include information on the dates, times and venues for the key election processes, including:

  • postal vote issue and openings
  • polling day
  • equipment provided to polling stations to make voting easier for disabled voters
  • the verification and count 

As well as communicating your local arrangements, you should provide candidates and agents information on the requirement to show photographic ID at the polling station before a ballot paper is issued:

  • accepted forms of photographic ID
  • how electors who do not have an accepted form of photographic ID can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate or an Anonymous Elector's Document
  • the polling station process in respect of the identification requirement

Your briefing session(s) should also highlight any security arrangements that you have put in place in consultation with the police. You may wish to invite your police single point of contact (SPOC) to attend any briefing sessions, or to provide written material that you can provide to candidates and agents.

Additional security guidance for candidates and agents is available at

You should also cover what standards of behaviour you expect from supporters in the area of the polling place on polling day and, for elections on or after 2 May 2024, the rules around the handling of postal votes.

The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice have produced guidance on Maintaining order and preventing undue influence outside polling stations. This document is designed to help the police think about how best to approach the issue of policing polling stations and offers some practical steps to help them reduce the likelihood of problems arising and deal with any that occur. Although it is aimed at the SPOC it may also be of use to you, particularly in communicating to candidates and agents the standards of behaviour expected from supporters in the area of the polling place. It should be read in conjunction with section 3 of the code of conduct for campaigners: electoral registration, postal voting, proxy voting and polling stations.



Last updated: 22 March 2024