Election counts and results

On this page you can find the answers to frequently asked questions about how election results are counted and the announcement of the results.

How are votes counted at different elections in the UK?

Election counts are managed locally by Returning Officers.

A Returning Officer is someone who is responsible for conducting an election and announcing the results of that election.

UK parliamentary elections and local elections in England and Wales

The result is worked out by the 'First-past-the-post' system, which means the candidate with the most votes is elected.

Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales elections

Around three-quarters of the seats are allocated using the 'first-past-the-post' system. 

You also get a second regional vote for a Party. Each Party submits a list of candidates for each electoral region. The remaining seats are allocated to candidates on those lists according to which Party has the most regional votes, and how many seats that party has already won. An individual can stand as a regional candidate and is treated as though he or she were a party with only one name on their list. 

This voting method is called the 'Additional Member System'.

Northern Ireland Assembly elections and local elections in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Candidates are ranked using numbers, and votes can be transferred if the first choice candidate no longer needs them. Any candidate that reaches a certain number of votes is elected.

This voting method is called the 'Single Transferable Vote'.

When are election results for elections in the UK announced?

This will depend on the individual areas and returning officers. In most areas, votes are counted after the close of the poll on Thursday evening, but in some areas votes are counted the next morning. Results will usually be announced as soon as possible after the count has been completed.

If you would like to find out what happens in your area, contact your local elections office. To find their contact details, enter your postcode in the 'Your local area' section of our homepage.

How do recounts work for elections in the UK?

Recounts are the responsibility of the Returning Officer at your local elections office. 

Recounts often depend on how close the results are. Any candidate can request a recount, but the Returning Officer can refuse this request if they deem it to be unreasonable.

How do I report an allegation of electoral fraud for an election in the UK?

Electoral fraud is a serious issue, and can involve criminal offences. 

If you are concerned or think that an election-related crime may have been committed you should first raise the matter with the Electoral Registration Officer (who is responsible for compiling and maintaining the electoral register) or Returning Officer (who is responsible for conducting the election and announcing the results of that election) in your area.

If you have evidence of an electoral offence having been committed, you should contact the police immediately.