There's talk in the news about the possibility of a General Election being called. If one is called, could the General Election and European Election be run together with a single ballot paper divided up into two sections, one to elect an MP and the other section to elect an MEP?

  • To add to some of the answers which mention the need for separate ballot papers: simultaneous elections may also have separate ballot boxes, as the counts are typically not done at the same time. For example, if a general election and local elections are held at the same time, it may be the case that the GE count begins immediately after polls close, but the LE count doesn't begin until the next day (so that the counting staff can have a rest!). Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 11:23

5 Answers 5


It's not unheard of to hold local council elections, Scottish parliament elections and Welsh assembly elections at the same time, e.g. 2016 -

European elections sometimes get bundled in with those, like in 2014 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_United_Kingdom_local_elections

Lastly, in 2015 the local elections and general election were held at the same time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_United_Kingdom_local_elections

If I remember correctly it's fairly common, if not predominant, that they're combined. You just get N ballot forms, where N is the number of things you're voting for.

Anyway, my guess is that from a technical point of view it's absolutely possible. It's not happened yet as there's only been one year when a general election and European elections were in the same year - 1979 (the first European elections!) - and they were in different months. A short notice period is needed - that's been 25 working days [corrected - thanks origimbo] since the fixed term parliament act was amended in 2013 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed-term_Parliaments_Act_2011

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    In England, it is perfectly normal for several elections to be held on the same day. You go to the same polling station for all of them, get issued a separate ballot paper for each election being held, and put the ballots in the appropriate boxes after marking them. Obviously, a few ballots end up in the wrong boxes, and sorting them out is part of the first phase of the count, where the total number of ballots is established, spoiled votes are taken out, and all the papers put the same way round in bundles. The UK's simple and low-tech voting system makes this fairly easy to manage. Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 9:03
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    That's 25 working days, or at least 5 weeks. Which given when Easter falls this year pretty much makes the cut off around the new "exit day".
    – origimbo
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 15:48

I doubt that it would be a single ballot. Formally, the two elections are separate, and mixing them on the same paper compromises this.

  • EU citizens in the UK can vote in EU elections, but not in British national elections. They would need separate ballots.
  • Which ballot goes on top? Are the parties in the same order on both ballots?
  • Can a voter vote in one election and abstain in the other, or would he have to spoil the ballot on the second election?
  • Is it even possible to spoil one ballot on the paper and not the other, or would the entire paper be discarded?

A more practical suggestion would be to hold two separate elections sharing the same polling stations on the same day. Go to the left, vote for the national elections, then go to the right, vote for the EU elections.

  • Could the poll cards and postal votes at least be shared, even if there were to be two separate ballot papers in a postal vote pack but with the returning office being the same Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 9:10
  • @SpacePhoenix, re the postal votes, same concerns as for the polling station voting. Regarding the poll cards, maybe, but one would still need to print two different designs. EU27 residents in the UK can vote in the EU elections, after all.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 9:16
  • None of these arguments are specific to the UK, and all could just as easily apply to (for example) American elections. But most US states freely mix federal, state, and local elections on the same ballot, so I'm skeptical of your entire answer.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 17:40
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    @Kevin, do any of the US examples have different electorates for simultaneous elections?
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 17:58
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    @o.m.: Nothing goes without saying; it is unreasonable to assume that every reader knows the intricacies of British and European election laws.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 22:18

No, the elections could be held on the same day, but it would be impractical to have a single ballot paper. The constituency boundaries are not the same, and some people are eligible to vote in European elections but not in UK elections. There would be two ballot papers.


If the elections are held on the same day, then two different ballot papers will be used. In London, when the Mayor and Assembly are elected at the same time, three different ballot papers are used (one for Mayor, one for Assembly Constituency Member, one for Assembly At-Large Members).

These ballot papers will be different colours to help the voters, as well as the sorters at the count.


Yes in the Netherlands we had such an election this month, however it was not on the same ballot and I think it's unlikely somewhere in the world the same ballot will be used.

Provincial Council elections and water boards On March 20, 2019, elections took place in the Netherlands. You could choose the members of the Provincial Council. You were also allowed to vote for the eligible members of the board of your water board. The members of the Provincial Council then elect the members of the Senate. That will happen in May 2019.

Final results Immediate results will be announced immediately after the elections. These results are only definitive if they have been approved by the Electoral Council. The Electoral Council will announce the final results on Monday, March 25, 2019 via news items on its own website.


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    Yes I forgot to mention that specifically. However I doubt they will ever just use 1 ballot anywhere.
    – Thomas
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 14:32

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