Presiding officer job description

Polling station staff are appointed by the returning officer and are responsible for making sure that the proper procedures for voting are followed. They ensure that voters are able to vote in secret whilst maintaining a COVID-secure environment. All staff employed to work at a polling station must complete the following:

  • online polling station training session to learn about the polling day processes followed by an online quiz. (approximately 1.5 hours depending on how many questions are asked in each session).
  • online training on how to use the polling station iPads (approximately 1.5 hours depending on how many questions are asked in each session).

Presiding officers only

  • Will in addition need to attend a briefing session the week of the election to pick up their ballot box and equipment (approximately 1 hour long).

Polling station opening hours

Polling Stations will be open for voting from 7am until 10pm. Polling Station staff must be able to report to their polling station by 6:15 am at the latest and will be on duty until the polling station has been cleared up shortly after 10pm. Although there will be opportunities for refreshment breaks, if you accept a role at a polling station you are consenting to working during the hours of poll without a rest break and in excess of the maximum working hours provided by the Working Time Directive

You must make your own arrangements for refreshments and meals as you are not permitted to leave the polling station premises during your working hours.

Presiding officer duties

Presiding officers are responsible for the conduct of the ballot in the polling stations and they must have a good knowledge of voting procedures. They need to comply with any instructions from the returning officer, deal with electors, candidates and  their agents visiting the polling station, maintain the secrecy of the ballot and supervise the poll clerks.

Their main duties are:

  • Liaise with their presiding officer colleague and the keyholder/caretaker for the polling station before election day to confirm arrangements for opening and closing the building
  • Visit the polling station before election day to plan layout and take note of facilities
  • Make contact with poll clerks to confirm arrangements 
  • Collect the ballot box and check contents at the time stated by the returning officer
  • Transport ballot box to polling station
  • Set up and organise the layout of the polling station and supervise the poll clerks in set up
  • Ensure the polling station is open promptly at 7am
  • Be aware of access issues and be responsible for health and safety for all staff and visitors
  • Conform to any arrangements in place to maintain a COVID secure working environment. 
  • Account for, and be responsible for, all ballot papers
  • Supervise the poll clerks in the issue and ballot papers and ensure the correct procedure is followed
  • Ensure that voters are able to cast their vote in secret
  • Provide assistance to voters where appropriate
  • Receive postal votes delivered by hand
  • Manage the attendance of those entitled to be present in the polling station and ensure they do not interfere with the voting process
  • Be polite and professional when dealing with electors and other visitors
  • Monitor the activities of tellers outside the polling station
  • Ensure the polling station is closed promptly
  • Supervise the dismantling of the polling station and ensure the room is returned to good order
  • Complete the ballot paper account and associated paperwork
  • Deliver the ballot box and associated paperwork to the relevant location promptly after the close of poll.

Person specification





A basic understanding of the election process

To have worked previously as a poll clerk

Experience in a range of elections e.g. local, Parliamentary or European

Previous customer service experience

Skills and personal attributes

Skills and personal attributes



Excellent communication skills and the ability to explain procedures to a variety of people

High level of personal presentation and professional manner

A commitment to customer care

Good administration skills and attention to detail

A team player and flexible attitude

Calm under pressure

Punctual and reliable

Previous supervisory experience

Able to lift polling booths/ballot boxes etc





Must not have worked in support of a political party/candidate at the election (whether paid or unpaid)

Be willing to attend a training session

Must not have been convicted of an offence under electoral legislation

Acceptance of waiving of Working Time Directive for period of employment

Use of car to transport ballot box. If you do use a car it is mandatory to have business use on your car insurance.

In return, you can expect

Full training in your role and responsibilities

Full written instructions

All stationery and equipment to carry out your duties

Regular visits on polling day from a deputy returning officer or polling station inspector

Direct-line contact to the elections office who will advise on any contentious issues

Contact details for your colleagues

Estimated work commitment

  • 3 hours training in advance
  • 1.5 hours briefing and preparatory work
  • 16.5 hours on polling day


Training: £42.50 (on completion of iPad training and Arun training)

Polling Day: £280 Gross amount (this includes a £5 provision in case you are required to use your mobile phone to contact the elections office throughout the day).

Travel: 45p per mile for car journeys (non-taxable).


All staff employed by the returning officer must be absolutely impartial and must not canvass for, assist or openly support a candidate or political party at election time.

Other information

All staff will be required to sign an agreement to maintain the secrecy of the poll.

If you are an employee of Arun District Council you must ensure you have your line manager’s permission to carry out election duties during your working hours.