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

Production of ballot papers

You have a legal duty to follow precisely the design and print specifications of ballot papers prescribed in legislation. 

By law, ballot papers for postal voters and for polling station use must be the same in design and size, except that the official mark may be different if desire.1   

You should ensure that you check with your print supplier at an early stage to establish the maximum size of ballot paper that they can print and, if necessary, have contingency arrangements in place in the event that a larger ballot paper is required.2  

The final content of the ballot paper cannot be confirmed until nominations have closed, but you will need to make decisions about the following elements of the ballot paper specification at an early stage:

  • the format of the ballot paper numbers
  • the form of the reverse of the ballot paper
  • the unique identifying mark
  • the design of the ‘official mark’
  • what colour the ballot papers will be


Last updated: 19 December 2023