Reviews of polling districts, polling places and polling stations

Planning a compulsory polling place review

Local authorities will need to decide when they are going to conduct the compulsory review within the timescales provided by the legislation.

Even though a compulsory review cannot start before the statutory review period, local authorities can start planning for the review before then and should also carry out a preliminary polling place review

There are some preparatory steps, detailed below, which can be taken outside the formal legal requirements of the review.

For example, local authorities may start compiling statistics and information which may assist them during the review. These may include:

  • Electorate figures, broken down to street level within wards and existing polling districts
  • Any local authority or national statistics that estimate population change within the area
  • In England and Wales, a report from the authority’s planning section detailing any proposed areas of new development and the approximate number of dwellings and expected population numbers for those areas
  • In Scotland, this information can be obtained from the Housing Land Audit
  • Detailed up-to-date maps of a scale that will assist in the designation of polling district boundaries
  • Details of current polling places and an indication as to their overall suitability for purpose (including, for example, any surveys, diagrams or photographs completed with the assistance of Presiding Officers or polling station inspectors or as part of a previous review or post-election evaluation)
  • Any comments or complaints regarding the current arrangements from the public, elected members or other bodies
  • Up-to-date information gained from the existing and possible future polling station venue managers as to continued availability (highlighting, for example, planned renovation work or other future plans)
  • Details of potential alternative buildings (public, private or temporary type constructions) that might appear suitable
  • Advice and guidance from local disability groups and disability organisations (such as, for example, SCOPE, Mencap or Capability Scotland), and any expert help from officers within the council who are responsible for equality schemes
  • Terms of reference and the criteria for assessing the suitability of the current/proposed arrangements

The documents required to be published or communicated during the review, such as the notice of review and the letters to (A)ROs and those with expertise in disabled access, could also be prepared. However, the notice cannot be published nor the letters sent before the start of the compulsory review period.


Local authorities could also set the timetable for conducting the review. 

It is important to factor into the review timetable the most likely scheduled date of the council or committee meeting where the detailed review proposals would be formally considered and approved.

The review officers should work closely with the lead officer in charge of these meetings to ensure that the date of the meeting and related deadlines can be factored into the review timetable.

Staff / project group / project lead

When planning for the review, the local authority will also need to identify who will lead and support the review, drawing staff not only from electoral services but also from other parts of the authority who may have expertise to assist and contribute.

Last updated: 12 July 2023