Proposal:Polling station

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Entrance to a polling station. Normally polling stations are set up in buildings which primarily have another purpose.
Polling station
Proposal status: Draft (under way)
Proposed by: Harry Wood
Tagging: polling_station=2010
Applies to: node node area area
Definition: A place where you can vote in government elections

Rendered as: TBD?
Draft started: 2010-04-13


A place where you can vote in government elections


Important information. The government should provide it of course, but we should also have it tagged somehow.

Polling stations are only valid for a particular election, although their location may be relatively constant in reality.

Proposed tag


Note that amenity=polling_station has been used, however there is a problem with this because a building will typically have some other primary purpose e.g. amenity=community_centre. polling_station=yes was suggested as a better tag, following advice from James Rutter (Surrey Heath Borough Council) I am proposing polling_station=year. For Local Authorities, "polling stations are only 'valid' for a particular election" and "can differ between local and gen elections...often stations may be temporary eg a carpark." example photo of temporary polling station

Mapping a polling station

Tag the primary purpose of the building, then add polling_station=2010 to indicate that it also functions as a polling station for this current election. If the building has no other primary purpose, then add the tag amenity=polling_station too.

Add a node node tagged at the center of the polling station location. Larger buildings may be mapped as an area area (probably also with building=yes)

Changing locations over time

In theory polling stations change location from one election to another, but in practice they stay in the same place quite a lot.

Polling stations locations should only be kept in the database if they are expected to be used in a forthcoming election. What this means is ideally we map polling stations of a forthcoming election. If we don't know them (e.g. when an election is 5 years away) then it's fine to map locations as they were used in the last election, since we can reasonably expect most of these to stay in the same place. Any polling station location which we know to no longer be in use for forthcoming elections, should be removed (or moved to its new location) Obviously in the run up to an election we would expect to know more, and to be able to map these things more accurately. Putting the year as the tag value will help us keep track of this process.

The result will hopefully be a logical usable set of "current" polling station locations, without any overly-complicated attempt to map historical 4th dimensional data.

Other combo tags

Propose we use something like election=local and election=general ?

polling_station:ref=nnn - polling station reference number (ref is too general and may already be used on the same object for another purpose)

A relation could also be used to define the area covered by a polling station (a test case is available in Orange, France) :

  • type=boundary
  • boundary=polling_station
  • ref=nnn


  • polling_station : node or way of the polling station itself
  • outer : ways defining the area covered

Tag Info



In France, the polling stations are rather stable data : they are written on the polling card (carte d'électeur), so they are valid for at least several years and several pollings. So, for us, I think amenity=polling_station is better than polling_station=YEAR. Gall 14:21, 11 December 2011 (UTC) Moreover, there are sometimes big buildings (like sport centers) which shelter several polling stations. So, in this case, each polling station should be a node inside the building, roughly centered on the ballot box. Gall 14:21, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

You're right, in France polling station do not change (its exeption when it change), but also there is a polling station identifier (a number related to the city), perhaps can we add a ref=1 for example and also an indicator to the city where the polling_station is attached... Something like :

  • amenity=polling_station
  • polling_station:city=city name
  • polling_station:ref=1

--15:48, 11 December 2011 (UTC)Padorange 15:48, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Well they don't change much in the UK either, but I guess the point was that they change location enough that it's needs re-checking for each election (if we're aiming for a usefully accurate mappable dataset), and the year tagging scheme would allow us to do that. I realised there was an incomplete sentence above. I think I meant to write "If the building has no other primary purpose, then add the tag amenity=polling_station too." (so I've added that now) Obviously that applies too if the node has no other primary purpose, if you're mapping the node inside the building. I wasn't anticipating that level of hyper detail. Certainly there's usually three or four desks inside a community centre, which might be mapped as separate polling stations I suppose.... although the layout of these desks probably changes quite a lot -- Harry Wood (talk) 11:00, 24 September 2013 (UTC)


In Germany a polling station ("Wahllokal") has a number (Wahlbezirk), which can be tagged as ref=101. I recommend to combine it with address keys addr:city=* etc. . Mehrere Wahllokale in einem Gebäude können mit Semikolon getrennt werden ( ref=101;102;103).


For the German municipal/local elections (Kommunalwahl), the area given by an admin_level=8 boundary is split into multiple voting districts, so-called "Wahlbezirke". Wahlbezirke seem to not cross admin-9 boundaries. Each Wahlbezirk has a unique identifier to distinguish it from another Wahlbezirk in a particular election. The identifier for the polling place and the district is the same. The polling place need not be located in the district itself; in fact, multiple districts may conduct their polling in the same building (but generally different rooms).

Multiple Wahlbezirke can get grouped into Wahlbereiche; this seems to be a purely statistical entity for the administration. In addition, there exist a number of voting districts specifically for postal voting. These necessarily overlap with the districts for regular walk-in voting.

For the German state elections (Landtagswahl), the area given by an admin_level=4 boundary is split into multiple voting districts, so-called "Landtagswahlkreise" (LWK). These seem to not cross admin-6 boundaries AFAICT; they are known to cross admin-8 boundaries however. Each Wahlkreis has a unique identifier to distinguish it from another Wahlkreis in a particular election. The above-mentioned Wahlbezirke and their associated polling places are generally reused for organizational purposes such as statistics and assigning residents their default polling station.

For the German federal elections (Bundestagswahl), the area given by an admin_level=2 boundary is split into multiple voting districts, so-called "Bundeswahlkreise". These seem to not cross admin-6 boundaries. Each district has a unique identifier to distinguish it from another district in a particular election. The Wahlbezirke and their associated polling places are generally reused.



  • polling_station=yes (to define a voctation place)
  • polling_station:zone=* (electoral zone. It has the formact SS-XXXX, where SS is the id number of the state, and XXXX is the id number of electoral zone. The list of electoral zone can be found in [1].
  • polling_station:sections=* The id sections of the ballot boxes instaled in the polling station. One or more values separated by commas.
  • polling_station:voters=* Number of voters in the polling station
  • polling_station:update=yyyy/mm/dd (last verification date of above data)

Santamariense (talk) 16:18, 22 April 2016 (UTC)

United States

Each polling place has a name that is used to identify it. The name usually includes the name of the building or place where it is located. For example, the local community center, elementary school, or religious building.

For each state, a polling place has its own hours in which it is open on Election Day. These hours are defined in state laws and are consistent throughout the whole state. For example in the state of New York, polling places are open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Voting in many states is not limited to Election Day voting. There are also large, heavy, secure, ballot drop boxes often located at a central location, for example the local town hall, where votes can be cast a number of weeks leading up to election day to be counted.

Each state is divided into state and congressional voting districts. Each poling place has its own set of voting booths and each booth has its own number. For example in Sayreville, NJ at the Senior Center polling place it has voting booth numbers 3, 10, 18, 30, and 32 (there are a total of 35 booths, and 15 polling places in Sayreville). A location of a polling place determines what state legislative and federal congressional district it is assigned to. For Senate races, there are no numbers as each state elects two senators for representation.

Some states allow early voting to occur where voting places are available for early voting for a period up to election day.

As for the polling_station=year method, I am in favor. However, think this should be used for each polling location rather than polling booth. A drop box is its own location, so this still applies. Additionally, other tags should be included to the polling station to provide essential information.

  • polling_station=yyyy
  • polling_station:name=*
  • opening_hours:voting_= hh:mm-hh:mm
  • election_date:mm/dd/yyyy
  • district:congressional=number
  • district:state=number
  • polling_station:booth_numbers=number;number;number
  • polling_station:dropbox=yes/no
  • polling_station:early_voting=yes/no
  • opening_hours:early_voting= (opening_hours=* format)

Another option for early voting period:

  • early_vote_period:start=mm/dd/yyyy
  • early_vote_period:end=mm/dd/yyyy

Another option for voting hours on election day:

  • voting_hours= hh:mm - hh:mm
  • election_day=mm/dd/yyyy

--Chronoshift (talk) 17:12, 2 November 2021 (UTC)