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

The media

You should include space and opportunity for the media to report on the result of the election. You have discretion to decide which representatives of the media you allow to attend.1  As with all attendees, you must ensure that media representatives do not interfere with the process or compromise the secrecy of the vote.2  

In preparation for representatives of the media attending your verification and count you should consider:

  • contacting principal broadcast organisations in advance
  • outlining the press facilities available
  • arranging for sound systems to be used for the announcements and for any live feeds
  • providing an opportunity for media representatives to inspect the verification and count venue to see what space and facilities are available, and give them the opportunity to raise any issues or requirements with you, including any technical requirements to avoid problems on the night and allow provision to be made in the layout of the venue
  • how you will ensure that the media are aware of any restricted areas and procedures; e.g. that camera operators are aware they must not overview sensitive information (such as close-ups of ballot papers) or obstruct count staff

Throughout the proceedings you should ensure that the media representatives are aware of:

  • the arrangements for the declaration of results, such as alerting them shortly before the results are to be declared so they can move into position and providing them with written copies of the results.
  • the arrangements for sound systems to be used for the announcements and for any live feeds and who to approach if they are asked any technical electoral questions
  • the expected finish and declaration times for each poll, including arrangements where you are counting votes for more than one contest 
  • that there is a nominated media spokesperson for the count who will be available to deal with media enquiries 

If media representatives are accredited by the Commission as observers and are attending in such a capacity, they have the same rights and obligations as any other accredited observer. Like any other observers, they are required to have regard to the Commission’s Code of practice for observers and must abide by any decision that you make on the use of cameras and other recording equipment.1


To assist you and your public relations team we have produced, jointly with the national TV news broadcasters, some tips for managing the media at the count.

The Commission will produce a media handbook  that you can include with any information pack you are producing for the media attending the verification and count.

Last updated: 26 April 2024