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FAQs for election staff

Scheduled elections usually take place on the first Thursday of May. Other by-elections for MPs or local and parish councillors can take place at any other time of the year, and on any weekday.

These polls are all run from 7am to 10pm. If you work at a polling station you need to arrive by 6:15am at the latest to have time to get everything ready.

Polling station staff are not usually permitted to leave the premises between 7am and 10pm. You should take enough food and drink with you for the whole day.

It is a long day, and you must be willing to work more hours than the working time directive limit.

The votes are usually counted at a night count after the polls close (10pm on polling day), or the following morning. Alternatively, votes are counted the day after the polls close.

The length of time a count takes depends on the type of election, how many people turned out to vote and whether re-counts are required. You must be prepared to stay until counting has finished and the result(s) has been declared.

Returned postal votes are opened, checked and tallied in a secure manner prior to polling day. The opening sessions usually start around 9.30am and the length of time it takes depends on the number of returned postal votes each day. You must be prepared to stay as long as it takes each day you are appointed to work.

Polling stations are located across Waverley Borough Council. Whilst we try and appoint you to your preferred polling station you should be prepared to travel anywhere in the borough. We cannot guarantee you will be asked to run a polling station closest to where you live.

The election count usually takes place at:

The Edge Leisure Centre, Woolmer Hill Road, Haslemere GU27 1QB

Opening of returned postal votes usually takes place at:

Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming GU7 1HR

The minimum requirements are set out in Eligibility 

If you are appointed to work at a polling station, it is important you remain politically impartial when you are working at the election. This means you cannot publicly show your support for a particular political party or candidate in any way.

If you are appointed to work at a polling station, you will need to provide evidence of your eligibility to work in the UK by showing us either:

  • Your valid passport, or
  • Your birth certificate and proof of National Insurance number (e.g., P60, P45, payslip).

We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic staff.

To work at a polling station as a Poll Clerk or Presiding Officer you should have excellent customer service skills and attention to detail. You will need to ensure that the proper procedures for voting are followed including checking voter identification.

To work at an election count as a Count Assistant or as a Postal vote opener, you should have good numeracy skills.

We expect anyone working at an election to act impartially and be polite and professional in dealing with all voters, candidates and agents, Electoral Commission representatives and any accredited observers.

We are always looking to add people to our elections staff database.

Appointments are temporary and made by the Returning Officer rather than the council. The council’s usual recruitment policies and procedures do not apply, but we follow the principles of equal opportunities and good employment practices.

We use several of our own staff in the first instance, and supplement this with additional external staff. 

For scheduled May elections, we usually employ approximately 200 temporary staff to work at polling stations, 150 for the count and 20 for opening postal votes.

For by-elections during the rest of the year, the number of staff needed depends on the type of election and how many polling stations are needed.

Anyone who is not given a role is automatically added to our reserve list and may be contacted closer to election day if a role becomes available.

We must stress that being appointed to work at an election is not a guarantee of work at future elections. The work available depends on the number of applications and available vacancies. We also cannot guarantee that you will always work with the same people or in the same location.

We will contact you by email if you have been appointed. We often have more applications than vacancies, and do not notify unsuccessful applicants.

If you are not given a role, we will add you to our reserve list in case any staff drop out closer to polling day.

Please do not contact us to check if your application has been received. If you receive our automatic email response, we have received your application.

Yes. All polling staff must take part in either face to face and or online training. More details will be included in your appointment letter.

Count staff will be required to undertake training. More details will be included in your appointment letter.

Postal vote openers will be briefed each day before opening the day's postal votes.

You will be supported by experienced staff.

If you are employed to work in a polling station, you will usually be working with two or three other members of staff.

If you are employed to work at a count, you will be part of a bigger team; of up to 12 counting assistants.

If you are employed to work as a postal vote opener, you will work individually and/or in pairs.

Pay rates vary depending on the role and type of poll. Fees for attending training may also be paid where appropriate.

The amounts will be confirmed before polling day.

All fees are subject to tax on a PAYE basis but are exempt from National Insurance contributions.

The amount we pay for each role is regularly reviewed.

If you are working at a polling station, you may want to apply for a postal or proxy vote.