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

Post production quality assurance checks

Once your election materials have been produced, you need to ensure that all materials have been printed, collated and prepared for despatch to electors or for use at polling stations without errors.

Checking filled postal vote packs before despatch

When carrying out quality assurance checks of filled postal ballot packs this should include checking:

  • that ballot paper and PVS numbers align 
  • personalised name/address information appears as expected in windows
  • that each pack contains the correct items - for example check that the correct ballot papers and reply envelope have been included 

You should carry out random spot checks across all packs to ensure a representative cross-section has been checked with at least two packs from each batch of 250 packs (which is roughly the equivalent of a full Royal Mail postal ‘tray’). 

You should also ensure that there are specific checks of any fills that include additional items, such as where a by-election means an additional ballot paper is being included.

You should make sure that you keep a clear audit trail of the proofing and other quality assurance processes that have been undertaken either by your staff or by your supplier which you can refer back to should any issues subsequently arise.  

You can find more guidance to support you in this process in Quality assurance and proof checking of election materials and further guidance on quality assuring the issuing process is available in our section on absent voting. 

Checking ballot paper books before allocation

When you receive the printed ballot paper books, you should carry out a final check before any ballot papers are supplied to a polling station.

When carrying out final quality assurance checks of the printed ballot paper books, you should check that:

  • the first and last ballot paper in every book and by checking that the ballot paper numbers in each book or packet run sequentially
  • every detail on the ballot paper is spelt correctly
  • every emblem that has been validly requested has been included beside the correct candidate and matches the party’s entry in the Commission’s register
  • all candidate descriptions have been printed in the line for the correct candidate
  • the voting instructions at the top of the ballot paper match the legislative requirements
  • the ballot papers have been cut to the correct size
  • the official mark has been included

You can find guidance on the allocation of ballot papers to polling stations in our section on polling station voting. 

Last updated: 19 December 2023