We now know there will be a general election on Thursday 12 December. This Insight outlines the electoral timetable.

What is the timetable?

The timetable for elections is set out in law; in the Parliamentary Elections Rules in Schedule 1 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.

The timetable is 25 working-days and sets out key dates for delivering nomination papers and statutory notices that must be issued by returning officers.

Bank holidays are not counted as part of the timetable. The St Andrew’s Day bank holiday in Scotland falls on Monday 2 December. A bank holiday in one part of the UK is disregarded from the timetable for the whole of the UK.

Registration deadline

Separate election legislation sets out the registration deadlines. The deadline to register to vote for this election is by midnight on Tuesday 26 November.

Voters across the UK can register online to vote. FAQs on who can vote and how are available on the I am a voter pages of the Electoral Commission website.

What are the key dates?

The timetable starts with the dissolution of Parliament. Dissolution happens just after midnight at the beginning of day zero.

Day zero also marks the issuing of election writs. A writ of election is a legal document sent to returning officers declaring that an election must take place in the constituency, and that they must publish a notice of election. There are currently 650 constituencies.

Candidates must deliver their completed nomination forms by hand to their local returning officer by 4pm on Thursday 14 November. If there is more than one candidate, the returning officer must publish a notice of the poll.

Polling day is day 25.

Day 0Wed 6 November– Dissolution of Parliament just after midnight at the start of the day
– Issue of writs
Day 1Thu 7 November – Last day for publication of notice of election (4pm)
Day 6 Thu 14 November– Deadline for candidates to deliver nomination papers or candidates to withdraw (4pm)
– Publication of statement of persons nominated – if no objections (by 5pm)
Day 7Fri 15 November– Publication of statement of persons nominated – if objections (by 4pm)
Day 14Tue 26 November– Deadline to register to vote (by midnight)
– Deadline for new applications for a postal vote – includes a postal proxy vote (5pm). Also deadline for changing preference between existing proxy/postal vote (5pm).
Day 19Wed 4 December– Deadline for new applications for a proxy vote (5pm) – after 5pm you may be able to apply for an emergency proxy in certain circumstances
Day 21Fri 6 December– First date that electors can apply for a replacement for lost postal votes
Day 25Thu 12 December– Polling day (7am-10pm)
– Deadline for emergency proxy applications (5pm) – emergency proxies are only available under certain circumstances and are not available on demand
– Deadline for re-issue of spoilt or lost postal votes (5pm)

Further reading

Election timetables, House of Commons Library.

General election timetable 2019, House of Commons Library.

About the author: Neil Johnston is an election specialist at the House of Commons Library.

Photo: Polling Station: STML: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0