The general election was held between 16 June 1790 and 28 July 1790. At this period elections did not take place at the same time in every constituency. The returning officer in each county or parliamentary borough fixed the precise date (see hustings for details of the conduct of the elections).
This was the first general election after the law had been changed in 1785 to limit the maximum duration of polling in county elections to fifteen days. Under the old law, the poll could remain open longer. For example, the election for Sussex in 1774 had polls open for 24 days (ignoring Sundays when polling did not take place). It was hoped that the change would reduce the enormous expense of most contested county elections.