Access to polling station data / statistics

This guidance outlines the legal requirements for the collation and sharing of data and the aim is to support EROs (and ROs where relevant) to make decisions on whether the requested data can be shared, and if appropriate how and when to share that local data.

Ballot Paper Refusal List

The Ballot Paper Refusal List (BPRL) must be completed by polling station staff for
all polls. Information from the BPRL must not be disclosed other than in the following instances:

  • to the elector, whose ballot paper was refused, or in the case of a proxy being refused a ballot paper, the person acting as proxy or the elector on whose behalf they were acting as a proxy
  • by an order of court

VIDEF (voter identification document evaluation form) information 

For the next two UK Parliamentary elections, polling station staff are required by law to collect data throughout polling day in relation to the checking of photographic ID and assist with the evaluation of how the ID requirements are working in practice. 

Additionally, although not legally required to do so, ROs may decide to collect data at other polls in relation to the checking of photographic ID.

In both cases, you must, as soon as practicable after taking receipt of the polling station VIDEFs, anonymise the data contained on them (for example, by destroying any related VIDEF notes sheets, or by removing any elector details recorded on the VIDEF for the purpose of capturing any of the required data).

Statutory data collection at UKPGE

For the statutory collection of VIDEF information, the data collected must be collated into two separate groups: 

  • one group providing total figures for all polling stations where voters were given an explanation of the photographic ID requirement before they applied for a ballot paper (e.g. where staff were appointed to greet voters and explain the requirements as they entered the polling station)
  • one group providing total figures for all polling stations where voters were not given an explanation of the photographic ID requirement  

In summary, these two sets of data that must be published and must not be published or otherwise shared are as follows:

Where 'greeters' are used:Where no 'greeters' are used:
  • Total no. of polling stations where greeters used
  • Total no. of people using a Voter Authority Certificate (including Temporary Voter Authority Certificates)
  • Total no. of people using an Anonymous Elector’s Document
  • Total no. of people having ID checked in private
  • Total no. of people who produced ID that was not acceptable
  • Total no. of people who produced no ID (unable to produce an accepted document)
  • Total no. of people who were refused a ballot paper because their photographic ID raised reasonable doubt as to whether the elector was who they claimed to be
  • Total no. of people who were  refused a ballot paper because the PO reasonably suspected the document was a forgery
  • Total no. of people who were refused a ballot paper because they failed to answer the prescribed questions satisfactorily
  • Total no. of people who subsequently returned with correct ID and were issued a ballot paper
  • Total no. of polling stations where no greeters used 
  • Total no. of people using a Voter Authority Certificate (including Temporary Voter Authority Certificates)
  • Total no. of people using an Anonymous Elector’s Document
  • Total no. of people having ID checked in private
  • Total no. of people who produced ID that was not acceptable
  • Total no. of people who produced no ID (unable to produce an accepted document)
  • Total no. of people who were refused a ballot paper because their photographic ID raised reasonable doubt as to whether the elector was who they claimed to be
  • Total no. of people who were refused a ballot paper because the PO reasonably suspected the document was a forgery
  • Total no. of people who were refused a ballot paper because they failed to answer the prescribed questions satisfactorily
  • Total no. of people who subsequently returned with correct ID and were issued a ballot paper.

More information about the collation of this data is set out in our data note for ROs.

The anonymised, collated data from the polling station VIDEFs is not open for inspection, and you must not disclose this information to anyone apart from the statutory duty to share information with the Secretary of State and the Electoral Commission (if requested to do so).

The polling station VIDEFs must be retained for 10 years, in an anonymised format. To achieve this, you must ensure that any related VIDEF notes sheets are destroyed, or that you have removed any elector details recorded on the VIDEF for the purpose of capturing any of the required data.

Additionally you may get requests for the release of the uncollated data. More information about what information may released, and considerations for ROs and EROs when looking to release additional information is set out in our guidance note for ROs.

Following a UK Parliamentary election we will update you on the process for providing the required anonymised and collated information to the Electoral Commission through our Bulletin.

Other Polls – Data collection and disclosure

At other polls, such as by-elections or local government polls, the RO may ask POs to collect the VIDEF data as a cause of good practice. 

In this instance, as it is not a legal requirement to collect this information at these polls, there are not the same restrictions on the publication of data.

If you receive requests to disclose data from such polls, you should consider how to respond to the request for information:
You should ensure:

  • that the data collected is anonymised as soon as practicable (for example, by destroying any related notes sheets or by removing any elector details recorded for the purpose of capturing any of the required data) to ensure that no personal data is released
  • you do not release any information that can only be provided to the Secretary of State or the Electoral Commission
  • you do not release information recorded on the Ballot Paper Refusal List that must be sealed and can only be disclosed by order of a court or in response to a request by an elector or proxy who was refused a ballot paper
  • that any data you make available is accurate and has been appropriately quality assured (e.g. checking that the data does not include any obvious errors, and that no information is missing)
  • that any data you make available is presented clearly and with appropriate contextual information, so that it is less likely to be misinterpreted or inadvertently misrepresent events on polling day.

You should avoid sharing information that has been recorded by greeters in polling stations as it unlikely to give an accurate representation of the experience of voters and may be misleading.

You should also ensure that the relevant privacy notice makes clear that personal data might be processed for this purpose, although no personal identifying data will be published.

Last updated: 15 February 2024