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Standing as a Candidate

A UK Parliamentary General Election has now been announced for 4 July 2024.  We held a Candidates and Agents Event for those interested as standing as a candidate for the Dover and Deal Constituency at 6pm on Friday 31 May 2024.  

UK wide Parliamentary General Elections take place a maximum of every 5 years, or at short notice when called by Parliament. The Returning Officer (RO) is the High Sheriff of Kent – it is a mainly ceremonial role. The (Acting) Returning Officer (ARO) for the Dover and Deal Constituency is based at Dover District Council and the ARO for the part of Dover District which falls under the Herne Bay and Sandwich Constituency is based at Canterbury City Council. These AROs are responsible for receiving and returning the Writs, nominations and the whole election process. The next UK wide Parliamentary General Election will take place on Thursday 4 July 2024.

Elections for the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) are held every 4 years. The Police Area Returning Officer (PARO) is responsible for nominations, overseeing the election process and collating the results from across the Kent police area. The PARO is based at Gravesham Borough Council and can be contacted at paro@gravesham.gov.uk. The PARO uses Local Returning Officers (LRO) at each local authority to organise the polling and the count in each area. The next scheduled PCC election is due to be held on Thursday 2 May 2024.

Elections are held for Kent County Council every 4 years. The Returning Officer (RO) responsible for the elections is based at Kent County Council and uses a Local Returning Officer (LRO) at each local authority to oversee nominations and the rest of the election process. The next scheduled all-out County Council Elections are due to take place in May 2025.

Elections are held for District and Parish/Town Councillors every four years where all seats will be re-elected at the same time. The Returning Officer (RO) responsible for nominations and the election process is based at Dover District Council. The next scheduled all-out District & Parish elections in Dover are due to take place in May 2027. 

By-elections for all of the election types listed above take place when a vacancy occurs. These can happen at any point in the electoral cycle, although County, District and Parish/Town council by-elections will only take place if there is more than 6 months until the next scheduled election of that type. If there is less than 6 months before the scheduled elections, the seat will remain vacant until the election.


Candidates can be nominated through a political party; however individuals can stand in their own right.

To become a candidate you must be at least 18 years of age and

  • You must have an entry on the electoral register for the relevant area, (not applicable to Parliamentary Elections); or
  • Have lived, worked or owned property in the area for 12 months (not applicable to Parliamentary elections or PCCs);  
  • Or in the case of a Parish/Town Council have lived within 4.8 km of the Parish/Town for the previous 12 months
  • And for Parliamentary, PCC, County and District Council elections, you must not be standing as a candidate in another constituency, police area, division or ward as applicable.
  • You must also not be disqualified for standing for elections 

County Council candidates may be disqualified if they work for the County Council or hold a politically restricted post with another local authority. District Council candidates may be disqualified if they work for the District Council or hold a politically restricted post with another local authority. Candidates for all election types may be disqualified if they are declared bankrupt or have a previous criminal conviction with a three-month or more prison sentence.

Candidates interested in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections should contact the PARO for further information on standing as a candidate, using the following email address PARO@gravesham.gov.uk or by going to the following webpage: https://www.gravesham.gov.uk/elections-voting/police-crime-commissioner-election/2

The Nomination Process 

No experience is needed to stand for election. 

To stand as a candidate, a form known as a nomination paper must be submitted. The nomination paper gives details of the candidate's name, address (in full) and political description (if any) that will be used during the campaign. 

To stand as a candidate in a UK Parliamentary General Election, your nomination papers must be signed by a proposer, a seconder and 8 assenters. 

To stand as a candidate in a Police and Crime Commissioner election, your nomination papers must be signed by a proposer, a seconder and 98 assenters. 

Due to legislation laid before Parliament in November 2022, as from the elections in May 2023, County Council, District Council and Town & Parish nomination papers only have to be signed by a Proposer and Seconder who support the nomination to stand as a candidate. 

Everyone signing the nomination paper must be included on the Register of Electors for the Constituency / Police Area / Division or Ward (dependent on election type) in which the election is to be held. If someone signs your nomination paper and they are not included on the relevant Register of Electors, the paper will be declared invalid.

 A person wishing to stand as a candidate will be issued with the following:

  • Nomination paper
  • Consent to nomination
  • Home Address Form
  • Appointment of election agent (not valid for Town/Parish elections)
  • Timetable

A candidate who is standing on behalf of a registered political party will also need to submit:

  • Certificate of authorisation
  • Request to use the party emblem

At the close of nominations, the candidate will be notified as to whether or not the nomination is valid. If a candidate wishes to withdraw their nomination, they have until no later than 4:00 pm on the 19th working day prior to the date of the election to withdraw.

The law limits the description candidates can use. For a Parliamentary, Police and Crime Commissioner, County or District Council election, unless a person is standing on behalf of a political party, they may only use the word "Independent" or have no description at all.

Candidates cannot submit a nomination paper using a political party description unless they have the political party's permission to do so and a certificate from the party authorising the use of their registered description must be obtained.

Some candidates appoint an agent to assist them and they can be appointed to take responsibility for the management of your campaign. This does not apply to Town/Parish elections. Candidates can arrange the appointment of other agents at the polling stations and at the count. 

Appointment of election agent

At Parliamentary, Police and Crime Commissioner, County and at District elections another person can act as an election agent for a candidate. They must complete an appointment of election agent form and that appointed agent must sign a declaration of acceptance. If no such application is received the candidate will be deemed to be acting as their own agent.

The election agent is entitled to attend polling stations, the opening of postal ballot papers, the verification and the count.

The election agent is responsible for all acts involved in carrying out the election on behalf of the candidate and has a duty to ensure the campaign is conducted according to the law. In particular the election agent is responsible for the financial management of the election campaign and for ensuring that the declarations and returns of expenses incurred by and on behalf of the candidate are delivered to the appropriate officer. 

For Parliamentary and Police and Crime Commissioner elections, the election agent may appoint a sub agent to help them.

Does it cost any money to stand as a candidate? 

To stand as a candidate at a Parliamentary Election, you must pay a deposit of £500, which will be returned to you if you receive more than 5% of the valid votes cast. 

To stand as a candidate in a Police and Crime Commissioner election, you must pay a deposit of £5000, which will be returned to you if you receive more than 5% of the valid votes cast. 

There is no charge to stand as a candidate in County, District or Town/Parish elections.

For all types of elections, there are strict rules on the amount and manner in which expenses are incurred by the candidate and how they are paid. The amount depends on the type of election and there is a limit on how much a candidate can actually spend. Because of these strict rules, a detailed return has to be submitted, showing exactly how much and in what circumstances a candidate has incurred expenditure. Expenses are non-refundable but must be accounted for.

More detailed information about standing as a candidate can be found on the Electoral Commission website here:https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/our-guidance/candidate-or-agent


Tel: 01304 872344

Email: elections@dover.gov.uk