Reviews of polling districts, polling places and polling stations

Considerations for the 2023 - 2025 compulsory review period

The next compulsory review period is the 16 months between 1 October 2023 and 31 January 2025. 

This will be a demanding period due to a high level of competing priorities that will need to be delivered alongside the compulsory review process. You will need to decide when to conduct your review based on an assessment of several factors, including: 

  • your overarching ‘business as usual’ workplan
  • the impact of new UK Parliamentary constituency boundaries, which are expected to come into effect at the next UK Parliamentary general election
  • the delivery of the next UK Parliamentary general election which must take place before 28 January 2025, and which could be called at relatively short notice following the repeal of the Fixed Term Parliament Act. (A)ROs will need to ensure that the UK Parliamentary election is conducted on the new boundaries and that the polling districts and polling places reflect these revised boundaries.
  • the implementation of the significant legislative changes which form part of the next phase of the Election Act 2022 provisions.  

You will need to ensure that you have the time and resources to carry out the review alongside your day-to-day delivery of electoral services. Our second key considerations document provides more information on the scale and timing of the legislative changes to be delivered, and the implications for your workplan:

Given the volume of anticipated changes and the impact of boundary changes for UK Parliamentary constituencies, we would advise that you undertake and complete the review as early in the compulsory period as possible. 

The recommendations for changes to the UK Parliamentary constituency boundaries have been published by the Boundary Commissions for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is expected that they will made by the end of November, with UK Parliamentary general elections held after this date to be run on the new boundaries. 

Conducting your review early in the compulsory period will ensure that you will be able to deliver the next UK Parliamentary general election on the correct boundaries, if it is called at short notice. More information can be found in our guidance Impact of new boundaries on the compulsory review process. As usual, the Commission will provide guidance and support to manage the impact of a UK Parliamentary general election called at short notice on the management of other electoral services activity, depending on when it is called (for example, during the annual canvass or in the run up to scheduled polls).

Although the new UK Parliamentary constituency boundaries will come into effect at the next UK Parliamentary general election, if a UK Parliamentary by-election is held before this date, this will still use the existing boundaries. Returning Officers will therefore need to make plans to run elections on both sets of Parliamentary constituency boundaries.

If you plan to change your polling district arrangements to support the new UK Parliamentary constituency boundaries, you will need to ensure that the electoral register reflects these new arrangements. As such, you may be required to publish your register twice: on 1 December following the conclusion of the annual canvass (unless you delay publication due to a by-election), and again, following the review, if it is not completed by 1 December.

When considering the implications of the timing for publishing the revised register following the review, you will need to consider:

  • how you will ensure that candidates and agents have the information they need to support their participation in the run up to scheduled elections, particularly if this is carried out before the May 2024 elections. For example to ensure that they have the correct electoral register data to support their campaigns.
  • any impact on poll card production, to ensure that you can supply data to your printers in time to meet your usual poll card deadlines. 

If you plan to publish your revised register post compulsory review after 1 December, following the annual canvass, you will also need to give notice of your intention to republish. More information about the steps you will need to take is set out in our guidance for EROs in England, Scotland and Wales.  

Preparing for the review

Whilst you cannot formally begin your review until the start of the next compulsory review period, there are steps you can take in advance to support this work:

  • familiarise yourself with the proposed changes to the UK Parliamentary constituencies in your area
  • contact ROs in neighbouring authorities, if new cross boundary arrangements will be created under the proposed changes
  • contact your EMS suppliers about structuring the register to reflect planned boundary changes
  • contact your print supplier to understand the deadlines for providing data to them in advance of any scheduled elections in May 2024 
  • liaise with other teams in your authority who may be able to support the review process
  • early communication with interested groups in preparation for the review to make them aware of your plans and when and how the formal consultation stage will take place and how they can get involved
  • prepare data in anticipation of the start of the compulsory review period in October 
Last updated: 27 October 2023