Since elections generally take place over a one- or two-day span on a periodic basis, often annual or longer, polling places are often located in facilities used for other purposes, such as schools, sports halls or local government offices, and will each serve a similar number of people. The area may be known as a ward, precinct, polling district or constituency. The polling place is staffed with officials (who may be called election judges, returning officers or other titles) who monitor the voting procedures and assist voters with the election process. Scrutineers (or poll-watchers) are independent or partisan observers who attend the poll to ensure the impartiality of the process.
The facility will be open between specified hours depending upon the type of election, and political activity by or on behalf of those standing in the ballot is usually prohibited within the venue and immediately surrounding area.
Inside the polling place will be an area (usually a voting booth) where the voter may select the candidate or party of their choice in secret, and if a ballot paper is used this will be placed into a ballot box in front of witnesses but who cannot see the actual selection made. Voting machines may be employed instead.
Some polling places are temporary structures. A portable cabin may be specially sited for an election and removed afterwards.