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

Print quantities

In your early discussions with your print supplier you must carefully consider the number of ballot papers that will need to be printed to allow you to allocate a sufficient number of ballot papers to polling stations and issue postal ballot packs. This will also enable sufficient paper stocks to be procured. 

You should base your print-run on 100% turnout of eligible electors. There are significant risks attached to printing ballot papers based on lower turnout levels. For example, if you start running out of ballot papers on polling day it will be more difficult at that stage to print additional ballot papers and send these to the affected polling stations in a timely manner. 

If you decide for any reason not to print ballot papers based on 100% turnout of eligible electorate, you should carefully assess the risks.

As part of your risk assessment you should consider:

  • turnout projections for the poll, taking into account the potential for late engagement and interest - the last equivalent poll should be used as the minimum expected turnout
  • the particular context of the poll
  • any local or national issues which may affect turnout
  • whether having a stock of additional ballot papers ready for rapid delivery to polling stations is preferable, for example printing a minimum of 100% of ballot papers but not issuing 100% of printed ballot papers to polling stations 

You should also take steps to ensure that additional ballot papers can be printed at short notice if required and decide how polling station staff would be briefed should this situation occur. 

Guidance on the allocation of ballot papers to polling stations can be found in our guidance on polling station voting.

Last updated: 19 December 2023