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

Setting up polling stations

Polling stations should be laid out with the voter in mind. In particular, you should take into account the needs of voters with a range of disabilities.

You should consider the positioning of all of the furniture and equipment, as well as where the notices should be displayed, and the placement of signage both within and outside of the polling station.

You should develop plans for the layout of each of your polling stations which can be used to assist those setting up the polling stations. You should consider the voter experience and flow, including how the voter will move through the voting process from entering to exiting the polling station. The layout of the polling station should enable the voter to cast their vote in secret, and it should also allow polling station staff to detect if someone is trying to influence or gain information about the way in which an elector is voting.

You will need to ensure that whoever is in charge of setting up polling stations knows how to do so and what the layout should be capable of achieving. 

If someone other than polling station staff is setting up the polling station, your polling station staff should check that it has been set up properly. They should have reference to any layout plans you have produced and the polling station set-up checklist in the Commission’s polling station handbook when doing so. 

The polling station handbook also covers the positioning of equipment and display of notices, and provides examples of layouts for both a room where there is one polling station and a room where there is more than one polling station. 

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.

Polling station inspector visits can be used to check polling station set-up and to ensure that all notices remain properly displayed throughout polling day. We have developed the following checklist to support their visits: 

You can find more information and resources for staff training on the set up of polling stations in our guidance on training presiding officers, poll clerks and polling station inspectors

Last updated: 10 April 2024