||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
Since elections generally take place over a one- or two-day span on a periodic basis, often annual or longer, polling places are often located in facilities used for other purposes, such as schools, churches, sports halls, local government offices, or even private homes, and will each serve a similar number of people. The area may be known as a ward, precinct, polling district or constituency. The polling place is staffed with officials (who may be called election judges, returning officers or other titles) who monitor the voting procedures and assist voters with the election process. Scrutineers (or poll-watchers) are independent or partisan observers who attend the poll to ensure the impartiality of the process.
The facility will be open between specified hours depending upon the type of election, and political activity by or on behalf of those standing in the ballot is usually prohibited within the venue and immediately surrounding area.
Inside the polling place will be an area (usually a voting booth) where the voter may select the candidate or party of their choice in secret, and if a ballot paper is used this will be placed into a ballot box in front of witnesses but who cannot see the actual selection made. Voting machines may be employed instead.
Some polling places are temporary structures. A portable cabin may be specially sited for an election and removed afterwards.
There are five different types of voting technologies that are currently being used in the United States polling locations. These include hand counted paper ballots, mechanical lever machines, punch cards, optically scanned paper ballots, and electronic voting machines.  Each location is charged with learning the technology and implementing the process to vote in each election. 
Polling places used to gather and count ballots in elections have changed significantly over the past 250 year.  Advances in technology have played a major role in changing the polling places because as the type of ballot changed, the venue in which the ballots are counted also changed.  One of the main reasons for advancement was to be able to access the results quicker. First was the word ballot, then came the different types of paper ballots, and today we have the electronic balloting systems.
Before there were paper ballots, people would simply call out their selection at the polling place. This polling place was typically the county courthouse or town hall.  Sometimes these polls were taken outside of the venue in a more informal fashion. When the voters came to the town hall to announce their choice, he or she would get in line to see the judge and swear in.  Once the voter put his or her hand on the Bible and swore to the judge, they would be allowed to cast one ballot per election.  The judge acted as the only form of voter identification and it was up to them to be able to identify individuals that had already voted and exclude them from voting again. 
The use of paper and electronic ballots have been the most widely used form of capturing votes in recent history.  When paper or electronic ballots are used, the polling place must be professionally organized in order to ensure that the ballots are not tampered with and are accounted for accurately.  These polls are held inside a building that has been setup in stations to assist voters. When the voter arrives he or she will be asked to show a form of voter identification.  Once the voter has been properly identified he or she is escorted to a voting booth where the votes are captured.  Once all the votes are captured the voter then verifies his or her voting ticket and then submits the ballot either to the poll worker or on the computerized ballot. 
Polling Location Impacts 
What building a particular polling location is placed in can have a significant effect on the results of the poll.  Research shows that polling location has an impact on how a voter may cast his or her ballot.  This subtle and sometimes unknown factor can be significant and can sway a close election.  Individuals can be influenced to behave in a certain way based on environmental cue.  An environmental cue is defined as an object or place that can prompt a part in an individual’s identity and influence the way he or she behaves.  Examples of such cues can be things such as the condition of the building, the name of the building, the ordinary use of the building, or the building decor.  Researchers have spent a great amount of time attempting to figure out what makes people vote the way they do, and what they have found is that the smallest of changes can have large impacts.
Wait time at polling places have also been a problem.  This has become such a controversial topic that even President Obama mentioned the need to decrease wait times to vote in his State of The Union Address on February 12, 2013.  He went on to include that this is our duty as Americans to make sure that everyone has not on the right to vote, but the opportunity to vote, without having to wait several hours in line. 
Building Usage 
The building being used as the polling place has significant impact on how an individual votes. For example, voting from inside a school building, a citizen might be more likely to vote for those in favor of school systems and education.  This is especially true if the school building you are voting in is in need of general improvement and or renovations.  This environmental cue has the ability to give a voter firsthand knowledge of what needs may occur in a particular setting.  In addition, voting from inside a church, a citizen might be less likely to vote in favor of stem cell research.  These cues give a person a sense of satisfaction for voting one way or another in the moment regardless if that was the way they intended to vote in the first place. 
Distance to Voting Location 
The cost of voting plays an important role in whether or not a person will vote. Research shows that the more expensive voting gets, the less likely a person is to vote.  Distance to and from the polling location is one of the main reasons cost can become an issue for voters.  Minor changes in distance from voter's homes to polling place can increase or decrease the amount of votes, therefore altering the outcome of a close election.  The reason distance to the polling place is such an issue is because not every voter has access to vehicle transportation.  According to the research on distance to the polling location from Haspel and Knotts, "To illustrate the range of the effect of distance, we plot our predicted probabilities at the lower and upper bounds of our continuous vehicle available variable. When no one owns a car (vehicle available = 0), the likelihood of voting drops from .664 at a distance of .01 miles to .418 at the median distance of .69 miles. When automobiles are universally available (vehicle available = 1), voters are much less sensitive to changes in distance: the likelihood of voting drops from .444 to .392 over the same distance range".  Voters ultimately value the convenience of polling locations. If a poll is accessible to the citizen they will make an effort, if the citizen has to travel a long distance then voter turnout decreases dramatically". 
If a voter changes precincts due to redistricting then the chances of them continuing to vote in future elections decreases.  The confusion that redistricting causes will deter the voter from looking into the new precinct that he or she should now vote in.  In addition, the informational costs associated with alerting voters of their new polling location will also affect the voter turnout because it is highly unlikely that funds will be available to allocate to ensure that every voter knows where to vote.  Redistricting can be beneficial in order to provide a convenient location but careful consideration should be taken before such a decision is made.
Openness and Centralization 
The openness and centralization of the polling location allowing voters to cast their ballot in any number of different locations in the county will increase voter turnout.  Sometimes a voter’s most convenient location to vote is near his or her workplace, not necessarily the closest to their residence.  Having a more open policy of allowing multiple possible locations for a person to vote would encourage those individuals who cannot feasibly commute back and forth from work to vote.  Centralization refers to making the polling location accessible to where citizens work, shop, recreate and travel.  Having a large polling location visible to the community will ensure that the voters are aware of where they are supposed vote.  This will cut down on necessary signage and will eliminate clutter and confusion. 
A polling station in a temporary cabin in position for the UK council elections on 3 May 2007
A polling station situated inside a suburban library in the north of Cambridge during the United Kingdom general election, 2005
A polling station sign in the Jersey general election, 2008
Polling place in a multi functional facility in Silvolde, a village in the East of the Netherlands
- Stein, Robert; Vonnahme, Greg (September 2012). When, Where, and How We Vote: Does it Matter? 93 (3). Houston, TX: Southwestern Social Science Association. pp. 692–712.
- Douglas W. Jones (2003). "A Brief Illustrated History of Voting". Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Jack Penland (June 23, 2008). "Voting Influence". Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- Jonah Berger; Marc Meredith (June 1,2008). "Can Polling Location Influence How Voters Vote?". Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- Scott Leiendecker (February 14, 2013). "Answer President Obama's call for shorter lines at the Polling Place". Retrieved March 3, 2013.
- Haspel, Moshe; Knotts, Gibbs (May 2005). Location, Location, Location: Precinct Placement and the Costs of Voting 67 (2). United States of America: Southern Political Science Association. pp. 560–573.
- Tom Jacobs; Miller-McCune (August, 19, 2010). "How Polling Places Can Affect Your Vote". Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Handbook for polling station staff, UK Electoral Commission, 2010