Overview of what we do in elections

We make sure elections are run well, and that people have all the information they need.

We don’t run the polling stations, count the votes or announce the results at elections.

The Returning Officer at your local council does this if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland, the Chief Electoral Officer at the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland runs the elections.

We have a different role in referendums.

Before the election

Before the election, we:

  • give guidance and support to Returning Officers, so they can run the election well
  • give guidance to political parties and people standing in the election, so they know what the rules are
  • run campaigns so people know when the deadlines are for registering to vote, and applying for postal and proxy votes
  • publish information about the donations political parties, campaigners and other groups receive, and how much money they are spending

During the election

During the election, we:

  • look at how well the Returning Officers are doing, and whether they are working to our performance standards
  • make sure people have all the information they need to vote, including how to find their polling station
  • answer the questions people ask us on polling day
  • visit polling stations on polling day, and observe how well run they are

After the election

After the election, we:

  • publish reports on how well-run the election was, and recommend what would improve future elections
  • publish information about the donations political parties, campaigners and other groups receive, and how much money they spent
  • publish electoral data including the size of the electorate, turnout, the number of rejected ballot papers and information on postal voting
Last updated: 15 July 2019
Next review: 30 May 2020