Returning Officer

Election Returning Officer

By appointing Electoral Reform Services as your Returning Officer, your organisation is assured of independence and impartiality.

As the UK’s leading independent provider of end-to-end ballot, election and voting services, ERS has decades of experience in overseeing voting processes and handling appeals and complaints that arise. We bring consistency, integrity and transparency to all parties in the election process.

As your Returning Officer, we will:

  • validate every nomination form received
  • check the terms of correspondence issued in respect of each nomination
  • receive appeals and complaints from members, candidates and voters
  • determine the validity of a complaint or appeal in accordance with the rules of the election
  • advise organisations of the Returning Officer’s decisions in respect of each case and giving reasons
  • communicate with parties on a complaint or appeal

Role of the Returning Officer

The Returning Officer has overall responsibility for the conduct of an election, ballot or other voting project. They are appointed by the governing body of an organisation and provided with the relevant powers and resources required to perform the role.

The Returning Officer must be impartial and should not be seen to show support to any candidate in the election or matter that will be the subject of the poll.

The role of the Returning Officer may include the power to:

  • determine the details and timings of the electoral event
  • make decisions on breaches of rules
  • determine eligibility of candidates
  • make judgments on procedural issues or errors that may arise during a ballot
  • consider all matters that may arise in the wider environment in which the electoral event is being conducted
  • declare candidates elected or options selected

The Returning Officer may delegate some responsibilities. This is where the role of a Returning Officer often overlaps with the role of an Independent Scrutineer, to whom they may delegate some of the administrative tasks relating to the electoral project.

Who can be a Returning Officer?

For public elections (local government or parliamentary elections), the Returning Officer is usually the Chief Executive or another senior officer of the local authority in which the election is being conducted. For private member organisations, the Returning Officer will usually be a senior employee, the General Secretary, the legal officer or the Chief Executive. In both the public and private sector, a Returning Officer requires knowledge of the relevant legislation, rules and procedures, as well as the experience to deal with the issues that may arise in what can be complex and emotive projects.

To discuss appointing ERS as Returning Officer for your election, ballot, AGM or other voting project, call us on 020 8365 8909, email us or make an online enquiry today.

Learn more by downloading our Returning Officer service profile