Standing and campaigning

The Electoral Commission publishes guidance which provides practical advice for anyone who wants to stand as a candidate or be an agent at a local government election in England and Wales.

The guidance is made up of 6 parts, setting out the different stages candidates and agents need to go through when standing at a local government election in England and Wales.

Nominations for the 2017 election are now closed. The below is for information only should you be considering standing as a councillor in a later election.

Before starting the process of standing for election you need to be confident that you meet all of the requirements. You should therefore first read Part 1 of the Electoral Commission guidance, which covers the qualifications and disqualifications.

You're also welcome to visit County Hall to have a look around and receive an introductory talk from Democratic Services about the role of a County Councillor, but you cannot use this as an opportunity to promote yourself or canvass others. If you would like to visit County Hall then please contact Paul Wickenden on 03000 416836.

You can stand for re-election if you're an existing County Councillor (or were one in the past). There's no limit on how many terms you can serve. If you are an Honorary Alderman, you'll have to formally give up this honour before standing again. There is specific guidance for existing councillors, the County Council and its staff about behaviour during the election period or "purdah".

Once satisfied that you can stand, you should read Part 2a of the Electoral Commission guidance (if you are standing as an independent candidate) or Part 2b of the Electoral Commission guidance (if you are standing as a party candidate), which deal with the nominations process and guide you through which forms you need to submit and by when.

They also cover how to appoint an election agent, who will be responsible for managing your campaign, particularly the campaign finances. If you do not appoint an agent, you will become your own agent by default.

Your local elections office will be holding candidate and agent briefings about the elections process. The dates and locations of these briefings are published here.

Deadline for nominations

Nominations for the 2017 election are now closed. The below is for information only.

To stand as a candidate you will need to submit a set of completed nomination papers, which can be obtained from your local elections office. Contact details for your local elections office can be obtained, using the postcode search, from Your Vote Matters.

Your nomination form must contain the signatures of 10 registered electors (known as subscribers) from the division that you wish to stand in.

You can submit your nomination papers to your local elections office between 10am on Friday 24 March 2017 and 4pm on Tuesday 4 April 2017 on working days between 10am to 4pm.

Your completed nomination papers must be delivered by hand.

Your local elections office will be able to informally check your completed nomination papers before you submit them. You should submit your nomination papers as early as possible to give your local elections office the opportunity to conduct this informal check and to give you sufficient time to submit new nomination papers should your first set contain any errors.

After you have submitted your nomination papers you will be sent a notice by the Deputy Returning Officer to let you know whether or not your nomination is valid.

While you may submit nomination papers for more than division, by law you cannot stand for election in more than one division. If you are validly nominated in more than one division, you must withdraw from all but one division before the deadline for withdrawals (by 4pm on Tuesday 4 April 2017). If you do not withdraw from all but one division, you will be deemed to have withdrawn from all of the divisions.

Withdrawing your nomination

Nominations for the 2017 election are now closed. The below is for information only.

If you change your mind after you have submitted your nomination papers and no longer want to stand for election, you can withdraw by completing a withdrawal notice form from your local elections office. The form must be witnessed and signed by one other person, and returned by hand to your local elections office by 4pm on Tuesday 4 April 2017.

After the withdrawal deadline it is not possible to withdraw from the election, and your name will appear on the ballot paper.

Appointing an election agent

Nominations for the 2017 election are now closed. The below is for information only.

You can get a form for appointing an election agent from your local elections office, and it needs to be returned there by 4pm on Tuesday 4 April 2017.

Candidates and agents at local government elections must follow rules about:

  • how much they can spend
  • who they can accept donations from
  • what they must report after the election.

Failure to follow these rules could lead to you committing an offence and losing your seat, if elected. Part 3 of the Electoral Commission guidance explains the rules.

You can only spend £740 plus a further 6p per elector in the division they are standing in. Your local elections office will be able to give you the number of electors in your division. Joint candidates standing in a two-Member division have lower spending limits, as they are sharing some of the costs.

You can start campaigning at any time. You don't have to wait until you are validly nominated as a candidate to declare that you will run for election, ask people to support you or publish campaign material.

There are lots of rules about how you can and can't run your campaign. Part 4 of the Electoral Commission's guidance will explain in detail what these are, particularly around:

  • what you can and can't say, either in person, on social media or in your campaign materials
  • how you distribute and display your campaign publicity
  • how the media can report on your campaign.

Campaigning on County Council land and highways

We will not give permission for any election material to be put up on or adjacent to the highway or on any County Council land or buildings. We must remain impartial at all times and not be seen as supporting any particular candidate or party.

This includes mobile advertising hoardings or vehicles parked on council owned land, including car parks or lay-bys.

Any such material would be removed as soon as we are made aware of it. Any potential offences or areas of concern may also be referred to the police.

Use of meeting rooms

If you wish to hold a public meeting, please contact your local elections office about the location and availability of public meeting rooms in your local area. There is no hire charge for using these rooms, but you must pay for any expenses incurred, such as heating, lighting, cleaning, or any damage to the premises.

You may also use the council’s meeting rooms for party political meetings at the same rate as the council charges for external hire and you can approach our catering supplier, Genuine Dining, to provide refreshments for these meetings at the political group's or party’s expense. If you're having a meeting outside of normal office hours, there may be an additional charge for overtime for security staff.

For further information about the use of catering, print services, offices by election agents, political staff and volunteers and KCC IT equipment by Members, please consult the purdah guidance.

Candidates and agents have a right to attend key electoral events. These are:

  • the opening of postal votes
  • the poll
  • the count.

You can also appoint agents to attend these electoral events on your behalf. Contact your local elections office if you wish to appoint agents or attend these events. Details on your rights and what to expect at these events are provided in Part 5 of the of the Electoral Commission guidance.

The votes will be counted on Friday 5 May 2017, the day after the election.

Each city, borough and district council will carry out the counting on behalf of the County Returning Officer.

All the results should be declared by 4pm on Friday 5 May 2017.

Finally, there are a number of things candidates and agents will need to do once the result has been declared, including submitting their spending returns to the County Returning Officer. This is covered in Part 6 of the Electoral Commission guidance.

County Returning Officer

The County Returning Officer is Benjamin Watts who is legally responsible for all aspects of the coordination, planning, administration and conduct of the county council election in Kent.

Benjamin has appointed Deputy Returning Officers (DROs) in each of the city, borough and district councils in Kent to administer and conduct the poll in their area on his behalf.

Your main point of contact during the election process will be your local Deputy Returning Officer via their local elections office.