BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

28 October 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us


You are in: London > News > London Elections 2008 > Features > How the election works

London Elects

How the election works

An overview and guide to how the election is run, who can be a candidate and the voting systems that are used.

The independent body in charge of running and organising the election of the Mayor and the London Assembly is called London Elects.

London Elects, on behalf of the Greater London Returning Officer, Anthony Mayer, is responsible for the planning and co-ordination of all logistical aspects of the elections.

On a budget of £18m, the majority of which is funded by the Greater London Authority, London Elects must arrange for:

  • Over 4,000 polling stations on election day
  • The count on 2nd May 2008
  • A public campaign to raise awareness of the election and to ensure the process is transparent and that information is available to voters, candidates, media and political parties
  • Delivery of the statutory Mayoral Address Booklet, which gives every candidate the chance to outline their 'mini-manifesto', to every registered London voter before polling day
Register to vote

London Elects campaign to register voters

Standing for Mayor

Individuals who wish to stand for Mayor of London must be 18-years-old (as of 18th March 2008) and be a citizen of the UK, EU or Commonwealth.

They must also have registered to vote in London, or have lived, worked, rented or owned property in London for the last 12 months.

Each candidate must pay a deposit of £10,000, which will be returned if they get more than 5% of first choice votes. In addition to the deposit, the candidates must collect 330 signatures from people on the electoral register in London – 10 in each of the 33 boroughs.

If the candidate wishes to be included in the Mayoral Address Booklet, they will also need to contribute £10,000 towards the printing and distribution costs.

Candidates are limited to spending £420,000 on their election campaign. This covers:

  • Party political broadcasts
  • Advertising
  • Unsolicited material distributed to voters
  • Party manifestos
  • Market research
  • Press conferences and media
  • Transport during the campaign
  • Rallies and other events

Standing for London Assembly

The criteria for people who wish to stand for the London Assembly are the same for Mayoral candidates.

Candidates for Constituency Members are limited to spending £35,000.

The spending limit for London-wide Members is £330,000 (for an independent candidate or political party-list.)

The voting systems used

The Mayoral election

If there are only two candidates standing for Mayor of London, then the First Past the Post, system is used. The candidate with the most first choice votes will win.

If there are three or more candidates, the Supplementary Vote system is used. Voters can cast a vote for their First Choice candidate and has the option of casting another vote for their Second Choice candidate.

This ensures that the candidate with the broadest amount of support from London is elected.

Any candidate who receives more than 50% of First Choice votes will be declared the winner.

If no candidate gets more than 50% of First Choice votes, the top two candidates with the most First Choice votes go through to the second round.

The remaining candidates are eliminated but the second choice votes on their ballot papers will be counted.

The candidate with the highest total of First and Second Choice votes is elected. In the event of a tie, the Greater London Returning Officer will draw lots.

The London Assembly elections

The London Assembly is made up of 25 members:

  • 14 Constituency Members who represent different areas in London
  • 11 London-wide Members who represent the city as a whole

There are two separate ballot papers: a Yellow paper for the Constituency Member and an Orange paper for the London-wide Assembly Member contest.

The First Past the Post system is used to elect the Constituency Assembly Members - the candidate with the most votes in each constituency is elected.

A form of proportional representation is used to elect the London-wide Assembly Members. Votes across London are added together regardless of constituency boundaries.

Any party or candidate with less than 5% of the vote is eliminated. A formula is then used to proportionally allocate the 11 London-wide seats. This voting system is used so that the overall Assembly reflects how all of London voted.


The votes in the London election will be counted electronically. This involves scanning ballot papers and using specially designed software to count the votes.

There will be around six million ballot papers from around London that will need to counted. If a paper cannot be processed through the scanner, for example it has been torn, then it will be entered manually by an election official.

If the electronic scanner is unable to determine the voter's intention from the ballot paper, then it will be put through an adjudication process involving election officials, election observers and agents from the political parties or candidates.

The count begins at 8:30am on 2nd May 2008.

last updated: 20/05/2008 at 15:19
created: 26/03/2008

You are in: London > News > London Elections 2008 > Features > How the election works

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy