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

Equipment and materials to be provided for the polling station

You are required to provide certain equipment and materials to polling stations, and will need to plan this in advance to ensure that everything is in place for the delivery of polling station voting. 

Summary of items to be provided to polling stations

You must provide polling stations with:1  

  • ballot box(es)
  • ballot papers (including tendered ballot papers)
  • pens or pencils to enable voters to mark their ballot papers 
  • polling screens
  • the relevant part of the electoral register
  • absent voters lists – postal voters, proxy voters and postal proxies 
  • forms to record the details of electors who have been issued ballot papers after the correction of a clerical error (which may be appended to the polling station register)
  • the corresponding number list 
  • ballot paper accounts
  • ballot paper refusal list (BPRL)
  • voter identification evaluation form (VIDEF) and VIDEF notes form
  • a large-print version of the ballot paper, for display inside the polling station
  • an enlarged hand-held sample copy of the ballot paper to give to electors to take to a polling booth with them for reference
  • a voting device for use by blind or partially sighted voters. 
  • guidance for voters (‘How to vote at these elections’) notices (for display both inside and outside the polling station)
  • instructions for voters notices (to be displayed inside the polling booth)
  • large notice showing the accepted forms of photographic ID to be produced when applying for a ballot paper and a statement that further proof of identity may be required to resolve any discrepancy between the voter's name on the electoral register and the name on the identification used (for display inside the polling station)
  • a separate area for the checking of photographic ID in private
  • declaration by companions of voters with disabilities forms
  • a list of tendered votes
  • a list of votes marked by the Presiding Officer
  • a statement of number of votes marked by the Presiding Officer
  • a list of voters with disabilities assisted by companions
  • copies of the return of postal voting documents form
  • packets, with seals, in which to place the items to be returned to you, such as postal ballot papers returned to the polling station, and for packaging the election documentation at close of poll
  • any additional equipment you have determined necessary to make voting easier and more accessible for disabled voters

In addition, you should provide:

  • mirrors, so that voters who removed their face coverings for identification purposes can ensure their face covering is in place correctly before leaving the private area
  • privacy screens, where a separate room is not available for checking photographic ID in private. ROs should take into account the safety of staff and the risk of allegations of undue influence
  • envelopes, with seals, in which to place any ballot papers that have been issued but which the elector has not placed in the ballot box
  • form or list to record electors marked as postal voters but who claim not to have applied for one
  • notepaper for use by polling station staff
  • stationery items as required, e.g. paper clips, drawing pins, adhesive tack, adhesive tape
  • plastic sacks for returning stationery and equipment to the verification venue
  • envelopes for making up assorted packets

You are legally required to make such arrangements as you think fit to ensure that staff, candidates and agents appointed to attend the station are provided with the following relevant secrecy requirements: 

We have also produced a template survey for polling station voters who required additional assistance when voting, which you may want to provide in polling stations. More information can be found in our guidance for Returning Officers on assistance with voting for disabled voters on Reviewing the election.

You should check that all polling station equipment is fit for purpose and that you have a sufficient quantity, particularly in the event of a high turnout. This should include considering if you should supply additional ballot boxes to Presiding Officers as one box may not be sufficient should there be a high turnout. 

You should prepare your polling station equipment and materials in good time before polling day, either for delivery to polling stations or collection by Presiding Officers. 

You should ensure that any additional equipment you have identified to make the polling station accessible is delivered and set up in good time for the opening of the poll. Our guidance on providing equipment that makes voting easier for disabled voters provides further information to support your planning.

Where a polling station has an induction loop installed, it should be used wherever possible to support the accessibility of the electoral process to voters with hearing loss. Polling station staff should be trained on how to use these at the briefing session.

Last updated: 19 December 2023