Reviews of polling districts, polling places and polling stations

Conducting a preliminary polling place review

The local authority should undertake a preliminary review of the current polling districts and polling places with a view to establishing their suitability, and identify any potential alternatives where required. This may be done before the start of the specified review period. 

There is no requirement to change any of the polling districts and polling places if they are suitable, but any ‘no change’ decision must be fully justified as part of the overall proposals.

The review process should be structured and must be conducted formally with supporting documentation. This will ensure that there is a complete audit trail for all decisions taken and will contribute to the transparency of the process.

Close liaison with other departments of the council, such as communications, those providing services to disabled residents, and planning will help to increase the efficiency of the overall review process.

The local authority planning and property services departments, for example, will be able to provide guidance on the availability of locations and premises and details of any residential developments that might have an impact on future electorate figures.

Modelling possible options where changes are deemed necessary can be undertaken by using mapping and planning tools available within the local authority, particularly as most authorities will now have access to GIS mapping services which can pull data from a variety of sources.

Local authorities should determine the most appropriate method of involving relevant local authority staff and other interested groups as appropriate. 

Assessing the current arrangements and proposals for change

The legislation suggests an approach starting with polling districts, followed by choosing polling places and then considering polling stations. In practice, however, it is important that good quality polling places are identified first, which can then be used as part of the process of defining suitable polling district arrangements that comply with the requirements set out in the legislation.

We have produced a checklist to assist with the evaluation of your current and proposed polling places and polling stations.

Last updated: 12 July 2023