The Logistics of Setting Up Polling Stations in the UK

As the nation heads off to vote in the general election on Thursday 4th July, I doubt anyone gives a thought to the logistics that goes on behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Setting up polling stations in the UK is a meticulous process, and as a national relocations and logistics specialist, Restore Harrow Green supports local authorities to get everything set up.

The process involves a coordinated effort between various stakeholders, including local authorities, electoral staff, and security personnel. At Restore Harrow Green many of our branch teams work through the night across the country, helping to support the logistics of setting up polling stations.

Local councils are responsible for sourcing suitable locations for polling stations, ensuring each one is accessible to all voters. The venues usually include schools, community centres and village halls, these are also common choices because of their central locations and facilities.

Accessibility is a paramount consideration. polling stations must comply with legal requirements to accommodate voters with disabilities. This includes ensuring wheelchair access, providing tactile voting devices for visually impaired voters, and having staff available to assist.

Security at polling stations is crucial to maintain order and prevent any form of intimidation or interference. Local police often collaborate with electoral officers to ensure a safe environment for voters and staff. This may include arranging security personnel at high-risk locations.

Mark Harvey, Head of Relocations at our Croydon, Kent and Surrey branches has a number of teams supporting local authorities throughout these counties. He said: “An election is a very busy time for our teams, we work very closely with the local authorities providing a detailed plan of how and when we will collect, deliver and set up ballot boxes, polling booths and equipment. It is our responsibility to ensure everything arrives on time and is set up ready for the crucial 7am opening time.”

Once the materials are delivered, the polling station needs to be set up. This includes arranging polling booths to ensure privacy, setting up ballot boxes, and displaying necessary signage. Staff are trained to perform these tasks efficiently and effectively.

Modern polling stations may use technology to streamline the voting process. This includes electronic voter registers and communication devices for coordinating with the main election office. Ensuring these technologies are set up and functional is a key logistical challenge.

Polling stations open early, typically at 7am. The polling teams must arrive well in advance to complete final preparations and ensure everything is in order. This includes checking the integrity of ballot boxes, ensuring all materials are available, and addressing any last-minute issues.

Polling stations close at 10pm. After closing, Polling station staff must secure the ballot boxes and prepare them for transport to the holding centre for verification purposes.

The Ballot boxes are then loaded and transported via Restore Harrow Green vehicles and staff observing the strict procedures necessary to ensure the integrity and security of the votes to the official nominated counting centre where they are unloaded and placed ready for the counting process to begin.

Mark said: “Once the voting has finished, our teams are busy ensuring the votes are all delivered. Restore Harrow Green will be working through the night both before and after the 4th July, to ensure we are on hand to support the polling teams at all times.”

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