Reviews of polling districts, polling places and polling stations

The roles and responsibilities of those involved in a polling place review

The local authority

The statutory responsibility for reviewing UK Parliamentary polling districts and places rests with each relevant local authority in Great Britain for so much of any constituency as is situated in its area. A relevant local authority is, in:

  • England, the council of a district or London borough
  • Scotland, a local authority
  • Wales, the council of a county or county borough

Depending on the structure of the local authority, it may not be the full council which makes the decisions on any changes to polling districts or polling places. Some local authorities may have delegated that function, in which case the decision on polling districts and polling places becomes the responsibility of a committee or sub-committee. This will be set out in the council’s constitution. 

The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO)

Where a local authority makes any alterations to the polling districts within its area, the ERO must amend the register of electors accordingly – either on a notice of alteration or by publishing a revised register. 

The changes to the register take effect on the date that the ERO publishes a separate notice stating that the alterations have been made, which should be done to coincide with the publication of a notice of alteration/publication of a revised register.

The (Acting) Returning Officer

The (Acting) Returning Officer ((A)RO) must comment during any review of UK Parliamentary polling districts and polling places on both existing polling stations and the polling stations that would likely be used if any new proposal for polling places were accepted. 

The election rules require the (A)RO to decide how many polling stations are required for each polling place and they must allocate electors to the polling stations in such manner as they think most convenient.  

The Electoral Commission

While legislation provides no role for the Commission in the review process, it does provide for a role after the conclusion of the review.

Once the local authority has published the results of its review, specified interested parties may make representations to the Commission to reconsider any polling districts and polling places. We may direct the authority to make any alterations to the polling places that we think necessary and, if the alterations are not made within two months, we may make the alterations ourselves.

Last updated: 12 July 2023