Liberal Democrats

Returning Officer (Federal Elections)

Job title: Returning Officer (Federal Elections)

Responsible to: The membership of the Liberal Democrats

Salary: N/A this is a voluntary role

Time commitment: As this is a new post the time commitment is an estimate. During the election period (c12 weeks), a maximum of 6 hours per week. This person may be expected to attend to urgent matters but work will take place outside of normal working hours. The nature of the role is that there will be some key deadlines which have to be met but whose timing is not under your control.

Tenure: Three years, including one full set of elections and any further by-elections.Returning Officers may be reappointed for further terms.

Location: This role may be conducted predominantly remotely, with one physical event
taking place in central London.

Purpose of the role

You will oversee and lead a team of staff administering the delivery of the Liberal Democrat Federal Party’s internal elections. The main set of elections is held once every three years, in the autumn, but there may be additional by-elections, smaller rounds of elections or needs for recounts to fill vacancies at other times. A new set of election regulations for these contests was agreed at the Spring 2022 federal conference. The Returning Officer is ultimately responsible for ensuring the election regulations (as set out in the Federal Constitution) are upheld, up to and including directing / disqualifying candidates who may fail to adhere to the rules.


Candidates must be a member of the Liberal Democrats and may not be a candidate in any Federal Party election for the duration of their tenure. In addition, they will be expected to behave in ways that generally give members confidence in the impartiality and expertise of the Returning Officer.

How to apply

Please read through the Full Job Description to learn more about the role before applying and take a few minutes to complete our Equality and Diversity Monitoring Forms then proceed with your application. You are very welcome to get in touch before making an application if you wish to understand more about the role. We can put you in touch with someone with experience of the role to discuss your potential application if you would like.


To be considered for this position, please submit your application to [email protected] including

  • A full CV of no more than two pages and including a telephone number and email address. This should include references from two people who have been candidates in different elections you have been Returning Officer for, or who have direct knowledge of equivalent experience you have.
  • A covering letter (no more than one A4 page) setting out why you want the role and how your experience and skills are relevant to it. This advert will close at noon on April 18th 2022. Applicants are encouraged to inform us if any reasonable adjustments are needed to be made during any part of the recruitment process. We will not notify applicants if their application has been unsuccessful at shortlisting stage. The Party believes it is essential to foster equity, equality, diversion and inclusion within our workforce. We want our volunteers to thrive in an environment where everyone is welcome and supported to achieve their potential. It is important to celebrate what makes us unique and that you feel valued, appreciated and free to be who you are.


Returning Officer - Full job description


The Party seeks an organised, authoritative and impartial person to manage the overall delivery of our Federal internal elections. The Returning Officer will work with the Acting Returning Officer (the Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats) and a team of staff to project manage our upcoming internal elections. These include the election of our Federal President and the members of the Federal Committees. Details of the election regulations can be found at the end of the Federal Constitution.


Their responsibilities are, broadly:

  • Ensuring that elections are run in accordance with the rules and agreed timetables and that members and candidates have confidence that correct and democratic processes have been followed;
  • Ensuring that the election rules are followed by all participants and their supporters;
  • Ensuring the fair and equal treatment for all applicants;
  • Ensuring that all members who are eligible to vote can do so; and
  • Resolving applicant conflicts (informally as an arbitrator or by making binding rulings).

They will have specific responsibility for managing staff to ensure the successful:

  • Publishing of the notice of election;
  • Administering of the nomination process;
  • Distribution of the ballot papers;
  • Verification and counting of the votes;
  • Declaration of the results.

The Returning Officer is not expected to personally deliver the work involved in administering these elections, but will oversee the work of staff and be expected to make final decisions on matters that arise. Induction and training will be made available.

Person specification

The successful candidate will possess experience of project management involving multiple stakeholders, ideally in circumstances where arbitration, conflict resolution, or adjudication have been required. They will have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, even in difficult circumstances. Attention to detail, calmness under pressure and good judgement are required. Our elections are vital to the vibrancy of our internal democracy. The appointed candidate must be able to reassure the membership that the integrity of the election is secure and that the rules will be consistently, fairly, and rigorously applied to all. Experience as a Returning Officer, either within the Party or externally, is not required but advantageous.


The Liberal Democrats are committed to diversity and inclusion and we welcome applications from candidates from all walks of life. Candidates must be a member of the Liberal Democrats and may not be a candidate in any Federal Party election for the duration of their tenure. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to take part in a due diligence exercise, more information about which is available on request. Applicants are encouraged to inform us if any reasonable adjustments are needed to be made during any part of the recruitment process. For questions and further details, and to submit an application, please respond to our advert.

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