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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?

Election counts are managed locally by Returning Officers.

UK parliamentary elections and local elections in England and Wales

The result is worked out by the ‘First past the post' system. That means that the candidate with the most votes is elected.

Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales

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 announced?

This will depend on the individual areas and returning officers. In most areas, votes are counted after the close of 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. 

How do recounts work?

This is 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?

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 or Returning Officer in your area.

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