If everyone on the voting list for a polling station had been to vote and have been marked off on the list the polling clerks have, would the polling station shut early? Or would it remain open until 10PM even though no one else could come in and vote?

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    Has it ever happened that all registered parties have voted in an area served by one polling station?
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 11:40
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    The Handbook for polling station staff doesn't appear to envisage the possibility. Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 17:23
  • Various comments about elections in other countries deleted. Please don't post comments which aren't about the question.
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


There's a process that's meant to be followed if someone arrives at a polling station to find that someone has already voted in their name or they're recorded as having received a postal vote (a 'tendered vote' can be made, although it isn't counted).

If the polling station closed early then this might be made impossible. For this reason it would not make sense to close early.

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    @o.m., the count doesn't happen at the polling station. Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 17:22
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    @o.m Anyone can apply in advance (at least 3 weeks before the election date) to be a "registered observer" at the count. There is no charge except you have to provide a security pass photo (and proof of your ID). In practice, the attendees will be people who have been canvassing for the candidates, not random members of the general public. It's not exactly an enthralling spectator experience!
    – alephzero
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 20:19
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    Postal votes can also be returned to the polling station until closing time, so unless all those have been received as well, they'd need to stay open.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 12:16
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    @o.m. You asked if "citizens" in the UK could observe the count and I answered that question. But the question is irrelevant to the OP's question, since there is no local counting of votes at polling stations in the UK. There is a single count for all the votes in the constituency. The only "count" at the polling station is a record of the number of ballot papers issued during the voting period, which is checked against the number inside the ballot box as the first stage of the (centralized) counting process.
    – alephzero
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 12:36
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    Absentee voters can also arrive at the polling station until closing time.
    – user207421
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 0:57

Polling hours are set out in Schedule I of the Representation of the People Act, 1983, as "between the hours of 7 in the morning and 10 at night". There is nothing in the Act that allows a polling station to close early if all voters have voted.

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    This is the best answer because it actually refers to the act which governs polling booth hours
    – coagmano
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 1:37
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    @FredStark While this does refer to the act which governs the polling booth hours, I believe that the other answer does a better job of explaining why it is important for the hours as defined in the act need to be followed, beyond just "it's the law" Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 12:04
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    @Chronocidal UK postal votes may be taken directly to one's local polling station on the day of the election (rather than posting them in advance). Those voting by post will not be on the list of expected voters at the polling station as they are not 'expected'. Would that be an adequate reason why it is important for the hours to be followed?
    – rolinger
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 13:40
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    I found the Electoral Commission website too, and the handbook for polling stations staff is quite clear. I have deleted my comment. I think this may have changed in the last decade - there was some fuss about people being turned away a few years ago. I would be grateful if you would withdraw the accusation of "just fabricating". Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 17:14
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    cite: electoralcommission.org.uk/get-ready The Electoral Commission says: "Polling stations can get busy, however, especially towards the end of the day, and sometimes there can be a queue. "If you arrive at your polling station and are in a queue waiting to vote at 10pm, you will be able to vote." it says absolutely nothing about being inside and since MANY polling stations have no way to queue easily inside
    – Mr Heelis
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 18:21

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