Helping you understand Welsh law

Count and determining the result

Local government elections

The Local Elections (Principal Areas) (England and Wales) Rules 2006 (“the 2006 Rules”) govern the conduct of elections to county and county borough councils in Wales. The Local Elections (Parishes and Communities) (England and Wales) Rules 2006 (“the Communities Rules”) govern the conduct of elections to community and town councils in Wales. These also include how the count is to be conducted and how elections are to be declared.

References below to local government elections mean county, county borough, town and community council elections.

References to Rules below are to Schedule 2 to the 2006 Rules. The same references will also apply to the Communities Rules .

Uncontested elections

On some occasions the number of candidates for local government elections will not exceed the number of vacancies on the council. In such cases no poll will be held and the candidate will be declared elected in accordance with Part 4 of the Rules (Rule 14). The declaration of the result is the same for both contested and uncontested elections and is dealt with further below .

Contested elections

Where the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies, a poll must be held. Once the poll is closed (under Rule 43), the votes must be counted.

Rule 44 outlines who may attend the counting of the votes.

Rule 45 outlines how the ballot boxes may be opened, who may be present at the opening of the boxes and that the polling cards must be mixed with the postal votes. This rule also outlines the verification process before the count begins. The Rule enables the returning officer to suspend the counting of the votes and outlines how documents and boxes must be sealed where there is a suspension.

Rule 46 prescribes the circumstances when a re-count may be declared. The returning officer may refuse to recount the votes if this is deemed unreasonable.

Rules 47 and 48 outlines when a vote may be void or rejected. The provisions outline that the decision of the returning officer is final though it can be subject to an elections petition.

Rule 49 outlines that where the result is a ‘draw’, lots are drawn to determine which candidate(s) is/are elected.

Contested elections - electoral system

The electoral system used at local government elections is the first past the post method. This means that each electorate has one vote for each vacancy on the council .

In elections where there is one vacancy, the person elected will be the person with the greatest number of votes.

On some council there are ‘multi member wards’. This means there is more than one councillor for that ward (i.e. more than one vacancy at an election). Where there are elections to these wards, electors will have one vote for each vacancy. The persons with greatest number of votes are elected.

Uncontested and contested elections: declaration of results

Rule 50 outlines how the returning officers must declare who the elected candidate is and how notices are issued.

For contested elections, the result must be declared as soon as possible. The returning officer must declare the elected candidate(s), give notice to the relevant council that the candidate is elected and give public notice of the result.

For uncontested elections, the returning officer must declare, as soon as practicable the name(s) of person(s) validly nominated and give notice to the relevant council and the public of who is elected.

Acceptance of office

The elected candidate at an ordinary election of will become councillor on the fourth day after the election. All councillors remain in office until the fourth day after the next ordinary election .

The elected candidate for a county or county borough council election has two months from the day of the results to declare the acceptance of office of councillor . Any acceptance must be made in a form prescribed by the Welsh Ministers.

The elected candidate for a town or community council must declare the acceptance of office of councillor at or before the first meeting of the town or community council. The elected candidate may also make an acceptance at a later date if the town or community council permits . Any acceptance must be made in a form prescribed by the Welsh Ministers.

Failure to make a declaration can trigger a by-election.

Assembly elections

How members of the National Assembly are elected.

There are currently 60 Assembly members (AMs). Each voter is represented by five of these - one AM represents your Assembly constituency and the other four represent your region.

So, when you vote in a National Assembly for Wales election you will have two votes – one to elect your constituency AM and one to elect your regional AM.

A local constituency AM will be elected (for each of the 40 constituencies in Wales) by the 'first past the post' system, where the candidate with the greatest number of votes wins.

The second vote you cast will be to elect a regional AM when you choose from a list of party or independent candidates. Wales has five electoral regions: North Wales, Mid and West Wales, South Wales East, South Wales West and South Wales Central and four AMs for each of the five regions are elected via the Additional Member System with the aim of ensuring that the overall number of seats held by each political party reflects the share of the vote that the party receives. The system uses a formula known as ‘the d’Hondt formula’.

Introduction: the election rules

The National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007 (the 2007 Order) makes provision for the conduct of elections and the return of members to the National Assembly for Wales.

Article 17 of this provides that the proceedings at Assembly elections must be conducted in accordance with the elections rules set out in Schedule 5 to the 2007 Order.

The count

Rule 54 makes provision about the time of, and attendance at, counting of votes at an Assembly election.

Rule 55 outlines how the ballot boxes may be opened, who may be present at the opening of the boxes and that the polling cards must be mixed with the postal votes. This rule also outlines the verification process before the count begins. The Rule enables the returning officer to suspend the counting of the votes and outlines how documents and boxes must be sealed where there is a suspension

Rules 56 and 57 provide for the circumstances in when a re-count may take place. The returning officer may refuse to recount the votes if this is deemed unreasonable.  

Rules 58 and 59 outline when a vote may be void or rejected and that the decision of the returning officer in this regard is final although it can be subject to an elections petition.

Rule 60 outlines that where the result is a ‘draw’ at an Assembly constituency election, lots are drawn to determine which candidate(s) is/are elected.

Declaration of results

Rule 61 outlines how the returning officers must declare who the elected candidate is and how notices are issued at a regional election.

Rule 62 does the same in relation to constituency elections.

Acceptance of office

Once confirmation of their election has been received from the returning officer and before a person can sit and vote in the National Assembly for Wales they must take the oath of allegiance or make an affirmation to Her Majesty the Queen.  This is commonly referred to as the ‘swearing in’.


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