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Why we are all going to be able to get to bed earlier this election night

April 26th, 2017

No simultaneous elections on June 8th means speedier counts

One of the features of the June 8th General Election it is that no other elections are being held on the same day. This is in sharp comparison to all the general elections since 1992 when John Major went to the country in April four weeks before that year’s locals.

This is important because it should have a big impact on the time it takes for the counts to proceed. If you have more than one election in a constituency then all the votes for those as well as the general election votes have to be verified before counting can start. This adds a considerable time to the process.

The table above, prepared by the former head of political research at the BBC David Cowling, sets out how many declarations there were in the different time slots. The contrast with 1992 is very striking and that year is the model that we should be looking at.

Thus by 1am in 1992 there had been 156 declarations compared with just 5 at GE2015.

Tony Blair, when he was in a position to choose the date, always liked to have other elections taking place on the same day because of his hope that this would ensure that more LAB voters would turnout.

Mrs Thatcher, meanwhile, is said to have preferred June because she liked the assurance of seeing the local election results before making the final decision to commit to a specific date. So the 1983 and 1987 elections both took place on June.

I think it is possible to load too many elections onto voters on the same day. On General Election day in 2015 Bedford where I live there were five separate votes taking place creating much confusion at polling stations. Every voter had to be issued with five ballot forms which each had to be individually processed. This inevitably led to longer queues and a prolonged count.

Mike Smithson



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