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

Production of poll cards

Poll cards must follow the prescribed form in legislation. You must include on each poll card all of the elements specified in the relevant election rules and shown on the front and the back of the poll cards in the appendix to the Representation of the People Regulations 2001 (as amended).1  

You should liaise with your Royal Mail contact (or other commercial delivery partner) at an early stage to ensure that you have appropriate licences in place and that the poll card meets specific delivery requirements.

Poll cards should be sent to electors and their proxies as soon as practicable after the publication of notice of election. If you are outsourcing the production of poll cards you will need to dispatch your poll card data to your printers and you should ensure that your software is able to produce a data file that your printers can use to produce the materials to the specification required. 

You should, at an early stage in discussions with your printers, have addressed in what format you will supply the data and in what format they will send you any proofs, and this should be included in your specification and contract.

Further information can be found in our guidance on developing contracts for outsourced work and quality assurance checks.

Subsequent issues of poll cards

EROs must publish two interim election notices of alteration before publishing the final election notice of alteration on the fifth working day before the poll. These notices support the prompt dispatch of poll cards to those electors who have applied to register close to the registration deadline.2 The first interim notice of alteration must be published on the last day for delivery of nomination papers, which is 4pm on the nineteenth working day before the poll.3

If you are not also the ERO, you should liaise with them to ensure that the timing of the publication of the second interim notice can support the production of your second wave of poll cards. The second interim notice must be published between the day after the deadline for delivery of nomination papers and the sixth working day before the poll.4  

An update of the registration data resulting from each of the notices of alteration should be sent to your printers as soon as practicable to enable the production of poll cards for new electors. 

Further information on interim notices can be found in our Electoral Registration Officer guidance for England, Scotland or Wales

You can also find further guidance on poll card delivery

Cross-boundary constituencies

If, as (A)RO, you are responsible for a constituency that crosses local authority boundaries, you will need to work with other local authorities to ensure you are able to provide the data from the other authority/authorities to the printers. You should also liaise with them to obtain the information on new electors as soon as possible after the publication of the interim notices of alteration and the final election notice of alteration.

Last updated: 1 February 2024