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

Close of poll

Voters who at 10pm are in their polling station, or in a queue outside their polling station, for the purpose of voting, may apply for a ballot paper.1  

If a person is in the polling station or in a queue outside the polling station by 10pm for the purposes of returning postal votes, they may do so after 10pm.

You should consider as part of your planning where queues may arise and ensure that you have arrangements in place to be able to respond as necessary

You should ensure that polling station staff are monitoring turnout throughout the day and providing progress reports to polling station inspectors, and that they alert you to any intelligence that indicates a risk of there being a queue at close of poll at any polling station. 

You should also consider involving your police SPOC in planning arrangements to deal with possible queues at the close of poll, so they can assist you with queue management if necessary.

The Commission’s polling station handbook sets out in detail the processes to be followed at the close of poll, including how to deal with voters held in a queue at 10pm.

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.

Last updated: 19 December 2023