In elections in the United Kingdom, a polling agent is someone appointed by either the election agent of a candidate standing for election, or where there is no election agent the candidate personally, to oversee polling at the election count. The primary purpose of a polling agent is to assist in detection of personation.
The appointment of a polling agent is not legally required. Polling agents are appointed after the period when nominations to the election are made. The election timetable states when counting agents have to be appointed, usually about a week before the polling day.
Only one polling agent per candidate may be admitted at any one time to a polling station, and they may not take information out of the polling station.
After the May 2005 Northern Ireland elections, the Electoral Commission concluded that some polling agents unlawfully acted as tellers, identifying those who had not yet voted, and passing information from inside the polling place to other party workers. This information is not normally available to parties unless voters give it voluntarily to tellers, outside the polling place.
- "May 2005 Combined Elections Report" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 2005-12-15. pp. 91–93. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
6.70 Despite being made aware of secrecy requirements, some polling agents transmitted information from the marked register to party workers outside the polling place.[dead link]
- Guide to the role– Walsall Council, England