Results and turnout at the 2017 UK general election

Overview

This report provides analysis on participation in and the administration of the UK Parliamentary general election (UKPGE) held on 8 June 2017. For this, data was collected from Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers across Great Britain and the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI). This comprised the Declaration of Result of Poll, the statutory Form K ‘Statement as to Postal Ballot Papers’ and an additional data form, specified by the Commission, which included data relating to electoral registration, turnout, absent voting and rejected ballots.

The election resulted in a hung parliament, with no party winning an overall majority. The Conservatives won 317 seats (42.2% of votes) compared with 262 seats (40.0% of votes) for Labour, 35 seats for the SNP (3.1% of votes), 12 seats (7.4% of votes) for The Liberal Democrats and 10 seats (0.9% of votes) for The DUP.

Table 1.1: Summary 

 ElectoratePostal votersTurnoutPostal vote turnoutIn-person turnoutRejected ballotsPostal votes rejected
England39.3 m18.2%69.3%85.3%66.2%0.2%2.4%
South East6.5 m17.8%71.4%85.5%68.7%0.3%2.0%
West Midlands4.1 m15.0%67.1%86.0%64.4%0.3%3.7%
North West5.3 m19.5%68.0%84.3%64.6%0.2%2.7%
East Midlands3.4 m18.2%69.4%86.6%66.0%0.2%2.5%
London5.5 m16.7%70.2%83.0%68.1%0.3%2.4%
Yorkshire & Humber3.9 m19.3%66.5%85.8%62.4%0.2%2.4%
East4.4 m17.1%69.9%85.8%67.0%0.2%1.9%
South West4.2 m18.9%72.1%86.9%69.0%0.2%2.2%
North East1.9 m26.6%66.1%84.9%60.0%0.2%2.2%
Scotland4.0 m19.4%66.8%82.9%63.3%0.1%2.0%
Wales2.3 m19.4%68.7%84.4%65.3%0.2%2.2%
Northern Ireland1.2 m1.9%65.6%89.0%65.2%0.4%4.0%
UK46.8 m18.0%69.0%85.1%65.9%0.2%2.4%

 

Electorate

The election gave 46.8 million registered electors the opportunity to vote. Despite a small decrease (2.7%) in Scotland from the 2015 UK general election, this was the largest ever electorate for a UK-wide poll.

Table 2.1: Electorate, 2010 - 2017

 20102015% change
2010-15
2017% change
2015-17
England38.3 m38.7 m1.1%39.3 m1.4%
Scotland3.9 m4.1 m6.1%4.0 m-2.7%
Wales2.3 m2.3 m0.7%2.3 m0.8%
Northern Ireland1.2 m1.2 m5.8%1.2 m0.5%
UK45.6 m46.4 m1.7%46.8 m1.0%

Across the UK, an estimated 1.3 million electors (2.7% of the electorate) were added to the electoral register during the weeks leading up to the election.1

Across Great Britain, an estimated 2.4 million applications to register were received in the weeks leading up to the election. More than a third (36.9%) of these were recorded as duplicates2 and an estimated 226,565 individuals applied to register after the registration deadline. 

Returning Officers reported that approximately 10,500 individuals tried to vote on election day despite not being registered. This data is inconsistently reported and we did not receive a complete data return from all constituencies.3

Overseas voters

Across Great Britain, there were approximately 285,000 registered overseas voters (0.6% of the electorate). This ranged from 0.1% in 20 constituencies to 6.0% in two London constituencies (Dulwich and West Norwood, and Streatham).4

Table 2.2: Overseas voters

RegionOverseas voters% of electorate
England260,9870.7%
South East56,2080.9%
West Midlands17,1620.4%
North West24,9160.5%
East Midlands18,2690.5%
London60,3861.1%
Yorkshire & Humber17,1560.4%
Eastern28,2180.6%
South West31,1820.7%
North East7,4900.4%
Scotland15,7310.4%
Wales8,4800.4%
Great Britain285,1980.6%

 

Turnout

The measure of turnout referred to in this report, ‘ballot box turnout’, includes all valid votes cast (‘valid vote turnout’) and votes rejected at the count. Total turnout refers to valid votes cast, votes rejected at the count, and those rejected at the postal ballot verification stage before the count.

Table 3.1 confirms that only a small fraction of votes cast are not allocated to candidates standing for election. This figure has decreased slightly from 2015 and 2010.

Table 3.1: Turnout

 ElectorateValid vote turnoutBallot box turnoutTotal turnoutDifference valid vote - turnout (pp)
2017     
UK46.8 m68.8%69.0%69.3%0.5
England39.3 m69.1%69.3%69.7%0.5
Scotland4.0 m66.7%66.8%67.1%0.4
Wales2.3 m68.5%68.7%69.0%0.5
Northern Ireland1.2 m65.4%65.6%65.7%0.5
2015     
UK46.4 m66.2%66.4%66.9%0.7
England38.7 m66.0%66.2%66.7%0.7
Scotland4.1 m71.0%71.1%71.5%0.5
Wales2.3 m65.7%65.8%66.3%0.6
Northern Ireland1.2 m58.1%58.4%58.5%0.4
2010     
UK45.6 m65.1%65.3%65.8%0.7

Ballot box turnout across the UK was 69.0%, which is higher than turnout at the 2015 and 2010 elections.

At a constituency level, turnout ranged from 53.5% in Glasgow North East to 79.9% in Twickenham. The largest increase from 2015 was in Foyle, where turnout increased by 12.0%.

Table 3.2: Constituencies with lowest and highest turnout

Lowest turnout
Glasgow North East53.5%

Leeds Central

53.8%
Glasgow East55.0%
West Bromwich West55.2%
Manchester Central55.6%

 

Highest turnout
St Albans79.3%
Winchester79.3%
Oxford West and Abingdon79.5%
Richmond Park79.5%
Twickenham79.9%

Rejected ballot papers

The proportion of ballots rejected at counts was 0.2%. This compares with 0.3% in 2015. 

Table 3.3: Rejected ballots at the count, 2015 - 2017

 20152017Change (pp)
England0.4%0.2%-0.1
Scotland0.1%0.1%0.0
Wales0.2%0.2%0.0
Northern Ireland0.7%0.4%-0.3
UK0.3%0.2%-0.1

The highest level of rejected ballots was in Northern Ireland (0.4%) and the lowest in Scotland (0.1%). At a constituency level, 81 constituencies rejected 0.1% of ballots. As was the case in 2015, the highest rejection rate was seen in the seat of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Buckingham, where 3.6% of ballots were rejected.

Across the UK, the majority of rejected ballots (71.9%) were rejected due to being unmarked or wholly void for uncertainty. Almost a quarter (24.9%) were rejected due to voting for more than one candidate.

Table 3.4: Reasons for rejected ballots, 2017

 No official markVoting more than onceWriting or mark by which the voter could be identifiedUnmarked or wholly void for
uncertainty
Rejected in part
England0.9%24.0%1.8%72.8%0.5%
Scotland0.1%21.7%1.0%77.3%0.0%
Wales0.1%25.3%1.9%72.7%0.0%
Northern Ireland0.6%50.0%4.3%45.1%0.0%
UK0.8%24.9%1.9%71.9%0.4%

 

Postal voting

The total number of postal votes issued for the general election was 8.4 million, representing 18.0% of all electors. This compares with 16.4% in 2015 and 15.3% in 2010.

At a constituency level, postal voters ranged from 1.0% in Belfast West to 44.3% in Newcastle upon Tyne North. 

As was the case in 2015, the biggest increase from the previous election was in Scotland, where postal voting increased by 1.8pp from 17.6% to 19.4%. Postal voting remains much less common in Northern Ireland (1.9%) where different rules are in force.

Table 4.1: Postal voting 2015 - 2017

 20152017Change (pp)
England16.7%18.2%1.5%
Scotland17.6%19.4%1.8%
Wales17.7%19.4%1.7%
Northern Ireland1.4%1.9%0.5%
UK16.4%18.0%1.6%

The proportion of postal voters returning their ballot papers always exceeds the turnout among ‘in person’ voters: this year, 85.1% postal electors used their postal vote compared with 65.9% who turned up to vote in person. 

Postal votes accounted for 21.6% of all votes included at the count. This compares with 20.5% in 2015 and 18.8% in 2009.

Table 4.2: Postal vote vs in-person turnout

 Postal vote turnoutIn-person turnout
201785.1%65.9%
201585.8%63.2%
201083.2%62.6%

Rejected postal ballots

Postal voting packs (PV) require voters to provide their signature and date of birth (DOB). These identifiers are then matched against those provided at the time of application. If the signature or date of birth is missing or does not match, the postal vote is rejected and is not included at the count.

Since 2014, Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) have been required to notify electors if their postal vote has been rejected and give the reason(s) for rejection. They can also request the elector to provide an up-to-date signature.

Table 4.3: Rejected postal ballots

 Rejected ballots as % of envelopes returned
20172.4%
20153.3%
20103.8%

The rate of rejection of postal votes has decreased to 2.4% from 3.3% in 2015 and 3.8% in 2010. This trend was consistent across the UK, ranging from a decrease of 0.9 percentage points in England and Scotland to a decrease of 1.8 percentage points in Northern Ireland. This trend mirrors decreases across local elections in 2017 and suggests that the new policy may be having a positive impact. 

Almost half (48.5%) of all rejected ballots are rejected due to mismatched information. In a third of cases (33.2%), postal ballots were rejected because voters returned their postal voting envelopes but failed to include either the ballot paper itself or the verification statement or both.

Table 4.4: Reasons for postal vote statement rejection

  20152017Change (pp)
Missing informationSignature5.5%5.4%-0.1
Date of birth4.4%5.0%0.6
Both10.7%7.9%-2.8
Mismatched informationSignature25.0%19.9%-5.1
Date of birth20.4%21.3%1.0
Both9.0%7.3%-1.7
Missing formsBallot paper10.1%24.0%13.9
PV statement14.9%9.2%-5.7

It is worth nothing that these percentages represent very small numbers of postal votes. For example, although 48.5% of rejected postal votes were rejected due to mismatched information, this represents 1.2% of covering envelopes received and 0.3% of all votes cast. The vast majority of postal voters did correctly file their returns.

Proxies and waivers

A total of 283,928 electors appointed a proxy (0.6% of the electorate). This compares with 0.3% in 2015. 

The number of emergency proxies issued across Great Britain was 14,096. This is considerably higher than in 2015 wheA concession granted under the terms of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 was that postal electors in Great Britain who either had a disability, or were illiterate, or were unable to furnish a consistent signature could apply for a waiver to use their date of birth as their sole identifier. n 8,901 emergencies were issued. 

In 2017, 51,452 waivers were granted, representing 0.1% of the electorate. This is consistent with 2015. At a constituency level, the proportion of waivers granted ranged 0.01% in four constituencies in England, to 0.7% in Bassetlaw. 

Appendices

Last updated: 9 August 2019
Next review: 27 June 2020