Employment at elections

Applying to work for the elections team

Have you ever thought of getting involved at election time by either working at a polling station or at the count? Our Elections Team is always looking for new people to help us, and would love to hear from you if you are interested in becoming involved.

It's a great opportunity to work as part of a team and take a sense of pride doing your civic duty. 

Due to Covid-19, we will be still carrying measures to ensure all the rules and restrictions are followed inaccordance with the Scottish Government's Guidance.


You must be at least 18 years of age to work in a polling station staff or as a counting assistant. You must also be entitled to work in the UK (in accordance with the provisions of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996).

  • If successful, prior to taking up your appointment, you must provide evidence of your eligibility to work in the UK by showing us either:
    • Your valid passport, or
    • Your birth certificate and proof of National Insurance Number (for example,  P60, P45, payslip)
  • Staff employed at elections must not work on behalf of a candidate during an election campaign, nor be related to a prospective candidate
  • Polling and count staff must consent to working in excess of the normal working hours provided for by the Working Time Directive

Have you got what it takes to join us?

We are always looking to recruit motivated and dynamic staff to fill any vacancies that occur. A brief description of the jobs available is as follows:

Polling Staff

The polling station staff are appointed by the Returning Officer, and are responsible for the conduct of the ballot, making sure that the proper procedures for voting are followed. The role of polling station staff is to ensure that voters are able to cast their vote in secret, free from influence and in a calm atmosphere. On the day of the election, polling station staff must be on duty from 6.30am until shortly after 10pm. Polling station staff are not permitted to leave the premises during the hours of poll.

All staff employed to work at a polling station must attend a training session before taking up their appointment.

Presiding Officers

Presiding Officers are responsible for running the ballot in the polling stations. They make sure voters can cast their votes in secret and free from influence. They aim to create and maintain a calm atmosphere and make sure the proper procedure for voting is followed and that the ballot is secure.

We expect anyone working at the election to act impartially and be polite and professional in dealing with voters, candidates and agents, representatives of the Electoral Commission and accredited observers in all circumstances.

The Presiding Officer has several duties including:

At the polling station

  • organising the layout of the polling station and liaise with the key-holder of the building if required
  • opening and closing the polling station on time
  • being responsible for all the ballot papers, paperwork and ballot boxes
  • receiving any postal votes handed in by voters
  • keeping the polling station neat and tidy
  • making sure that all signs and notices are clear, visible and remain in place throughout the day

The process of voting

  • being responsible for the health and safety of voters and staff within the polling place
  • instructing and supervising the work of the polling clerks
  • maintaining order in the polling station
  • ensuring  all ballot papers are issued correctly to eligible voters
  • dealing with special voting procedures as required
  • managing the attendance of those entitled to be present in the polling station and to making sure they do not interfere with the voting process
  • monitoring the activities of tellers (people who work on behalf of political parties) outside polling places and making sure they do not interfere with the voting process
  • cleaning surfaces within the polling place

Poll Clerks

A Clerk assists Presiding Officers in carrying out their duties to run the polling station but do not have the responsibilities of the Presiding Officer. They should know all the procedures for voting and how to deal with common problems.

We expect anyone working at the election to act impartially and be polite and professional in dealing with voters, candidates and agents, representatives of the Electoral Commission and accredited observers in all circumstances.

The duties of a Clerk include:

  • assisting with the layout of the polling station and prepare for the opening of the poll
  • checking that voters are eligible to vote in the election and at this polling station
  • checking and mark voters’ elector numbers in the register of electors
  • writing the voter’s electoral number on the corresponding number list
  • issuing ballot papers to voters, and making sure that they bear the official mark
  • making sure that voters cast their votes in secret
  • maintaining the secrecy of the ballot at all times
  • answering voters’ questions, where appropriate, in a friendly and professional way
  • helping with any other polling station duties on the instruction of the Presiding Officer
  • directing voters to the correct polling station
  • managing queues to vote
  • cleaning surfaces within the polling place
  • assisting the presiding Officer to complete necessary procedures after the close of the polling station

Polling Station Inspectors 

Polling Station Inspectors undertake a vital role on polling day in ensuring that the poll runs smoothly and that the addtional hygiene/ security measures are carried out in every polling place. Similar to the role of polling station staff, you will be on duty for the duration of the polling hours and will be required to visit polling places and carry out inspections/duties as directed by the Returning Officer during polling day to ensure .  You may also be asked to receipt ballot boxes after the close of poll at one of the collection points in your area.  

Processing Postal Votes

Staff employed by the Council are required to assist the Postal Votes Team with the opening/scanning and verifying of returned postal voting ballot packs in The Highland Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, IV3 5NX.  During a 3-week period prior to the day of poll, work is available over a number of sessions during office hours and may include weekends and bank holidays. You will be required to work as part of a team and can indicate which sessions you are available to work.

The Count

We are always looking to recruit people to count votes during the day or overnight depending on the election.  No previous experience is required but you should have basic numeracy skills and good manual dexterity.

Every person attending the count will be required to maintain the secrecy of voting.  Count staff employed will be expected to attend a training session.

  • Ballot Box Reception and Runners are employed to receipt the ballot boxes that are returned after the close of poll and issue to the appropriate count zone.
  • Accountants are responsible for reconciling ballot papers accounts and counted votes.
  • Counting Supervisors and Assistants are employed to verify and count the votes cast at polling stations, together with the postal votes received in the run-up to polling day.
  • Mixing and Counted Votes Team are responsible for batching and accounting for all the ballot papers received.
  • Unused Votes Team are employed to verify the number of unused ballot papers in each polling station.

Miscellaneous Duties

The Election Office require staff outwith office hours to assist with the preparing of stationery packs, ballot box filling, setting up and dismantling of the count centre. 

Rates of Pay 

The rates of pay for electon staff vary depending on the job role and the type of poll.  All fees are subject to tax and will be reviewed each year. Mileage allowance will be paid on applicable posts.

Further Information 

The next upcoming statutory Election is scheduled to be held on Thursday 5 May 2022 for the Highland Council local government elections.  The count will be conducted electronically and will be held during the day on Friday 6 May 2022. Due to the volume of training that will have to be undertaken for staff working at the electronic count, we will only be recruiting council staff for this task. We welcome anyone outside the council to apply to work at a polling stations in May 2022.

Any work carried out for the elections office is subject to the Secrecy Requirements.

If you require any further information, please telephone 01349 886657 or email election@highland.gov.uk

How to apply

Please complete the application form below.  

Apply for employment at an election

Submitting an application form is not a guarantee of employment, we will keep your details on our records and contact you before the next election. 

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