Guidance for Returning Officers administering Local Government Elections in England

The count

Count staff should arrive at the times agreed by you in advance and should check the count stationery and equipment is present, using our checklist to assist. You should ensure that staff are checked in and that you brief them as necessary to ensure smooth delivery of the count.

You must have taken reasonable steps to begin counting the votes as soon as practicable after the close of poll.

At stand-alone polls, you do not have to wait until you have completed the verification, before you can start counting the votes.


Where polls are combined, the verification of the ballot papers for all the electoral events within each electoral area must be completed before the counting of the votes for any of those polls for that electoral area can be commenced.1

At a combined authority or combined county authority mayoral election, you will need to take into account any guidance or directions issued by the CARO/CCARO.2  As local RO, you are responsible for the counting of votes for your area. The CARO/CCARO has responsibility for the collation of local totals and declaration of the result for the whole of the combined authority area and you should discuss with the CARO/CCARO how this will work in practice. 

Last updated: 14 March 2024