UK Politics

European elections 2019: How the BBC reports polling day

Newsroom

The BBC, like other broadcasters, isn't allowed to report details of campaigning while the polls are open on 23 May.

The BBC is required by electoral law to adopt a code of practice, ensuring fairness between candidates and that is particularly important on polling day.

The code of practice is contained in more detailed election guidelines which are written and published for each election - and they include guidance on polling day, here.

On polling day specifically, the BBC doesn't report on any of the election campaigns from 00:30 BST until polls close at 22:00 BST on TV, radio or bbc.co.uk or on social media and other channels.

However, online sites do not have to remove archived reports, including, for instance, programmes on iPlayer.

Coverage on the day is usually restricted to uncontroversial factual accounts, such as the appearance of politicians at polling stations, or the weather.

It tends to focus on giving information which will help voters with the process of going to polling stations.

Subjects which have been directly at issue or part of the campaign must not be covered while polls in the UK are open.

However, that does not mean that other politics, for instance, what happens in Parliament or political events generally, cannot be covered appropriately.

No opinion poll on any issue relating to politics or the election can be published until after the polls have closed.

Whilst the polls are open, it is a criminal offence to publish anything about the way in which people have voted in that election.

This means there is an additional restriction in the UK for European elections, because voting elsewhere in the EU is not concluded until Sunday evening; in the UK, it is a criminal offence to publish exit polls or opinion polls which ask people how they've voted (anywhere in the EU) before 22:00 BST on Sunday 26 May.

It means that information which may be available, for instance, on social media about how people are voting in other countries, cannot be included in BBC programmes or online stories.

Reporting or talking about those elections generally is fine - using exit poll data is not.