Monday, April 12, 2010

Only 33 Seats Will Count on Friday

Last week I posted about the victory for the campaign to save election night counts. Today the Electoral Commission has confirmed my mathematics and there are only 34 24 constituencies which will now count on the Friday. That means 95% will count on the Thursday night.

It really is a disgrace, though, that Broadland Council in Norfolk is holding out and will not count either the Broadland seat OR Norwich North until Friday. I phoned the Chief Executive, Colin Bland, who told me that it was due logistical difficulties surrounding the counting of postal votes. I asked him why it was different for his council and he couldn't really give him an answer. I asked him if he wasn't concerned by the Electoral Commission guidance that he could be personally liable if his reasoning wasn't accepted and he replied that he wasn't sure what "liable" meant. Let's hope he finds out.

Here is the list... (now down to 24)

Argyll & Bute
Berwick Upon Tweed
Blyth Valley
Kenilworth & Southam
Lancaster & Fleetwood
Morecambe & Lunesdale
NE Hampshire
Norwich North
Oxford West & Abingdon
Penrith & the Border
Saffron Walden
Skipton & Ripon
St Ives
Torridge & West Devon
Warwick & Leamington
Westmorland & Lonsdale

*The Electoral Commission says Wokingham is counting on Friday but a local councillor tells me this is wrong.

So it's now down to 24 seats as of Tuesday evening.


Steve C said...

What about your own 'home' seat of Saffron Walden, Iain? I know the Tories will win it (cameron in deep do-do if not) but that's not the point. Know anyone on the Council there?

David said...


Youll be happy to know that Northern Ireland for the first time will count on Thursday night.

Adam said...

I think your local councillor friend in Wokingham's right - last I heard the count's on the Thursday night.

Nick said...

Fancy highlighting which of these you see as marginal? Henley for instance isn't going to affect the outcome.

Sean O'Hare said...

Sad to see Buckingham on that list. I was quite looking forward to staying up to watch the result there.

Andy JS said...

Fantastic news!

Looks like a lot of returning officers have caved in at the last moment. Only a week ago things were looking very different according to the EC's list.

Congratulations to everyone involved, especially Jonathan Isaby.

As you say, it unfortunately looks like about 7 Tory target seats are still counting on the Friday, which means if Cameron is going to win a majority of about 15 seats or less he might be kept hanging around on Friday afternoon, which is regrettable.

metabourke said...

There are a few seats in this list for which Friday counting doesn't seem unreasonable - Argyle & Bute and Penrith and the Border, for example. However, if the other seats in the north of Scotland can manage Thursday counts, I don't see why urban seats in the south and midlands can't do so. Didn't Cheltenham used to be an early declarer?

edf said...

I used to live in Berwick and to be fair they have often started counting late, usually because a ballot box would be stranded on Holy Island due to the tide

Shilpa Abrol said...

Looks like out of those there are only two marginal seat, Torridge & West Devon and Westmorland and Lonsdale.. The Buckingham one is of entertainment loss though.

Ian said...

If Western Isles can count on a Thursday night almost everybody else can. Where Holy Island (Berwick on Tweed) is concerned it will be unsafe to cross the Causeway on May 6th between 8.20 p.m. and 11.35 p.m. However, Helicopters can land on Holy Island -after all in Orkney & Shetland you have at least one box nearer to Bergen than Thurso and they still count on Friday night

Too many of these daytime Friday counts are in saets with Tory Councils. What are our Councillors in these constituencies doing to bring their officers to heel.

Fred Blogs said...

Several of the seats on your list expect a high postal vote. Some marginals are targeted by expat groups, who can choose in which constituency their expat voters are registered. There are 2m expat voters, so that this may well decide a few marginals.
Due to the recent unreliability of the UK post, the Returning Officers don't want to be caught with their trousers down if decisive votes arrive late and cause the result to be challenged.

Andy JS said...

I've said this before:

St Ives has not always counted on the Friday.

In 1987 and 1992 it counted on the night and declared the result by 3am both times.

I assume they used a helicopter to get the ballot boxes to the mainland.

Buckingham is at least something to look forward to on the second day!

miko said...

I see my MP;


"4 garlic presses,2 vases,grass cutting,swimming pool cleaning while I buy a £1.8M house without needing a mortgage"


is trying to delay his day of reckoning in NE Hampshire.

He steals money from us like the Artful Dodger.


I'm voting UKIP.

But more than anything,passionately and with the greatest rage,I want Gordon Brown and his thugs never to be seen ever again in public.

Utter utter scum.

Neil James said...

Off topic I know but did brown just say he never raised vat on C4 News.

Also why is he more combative with reporters than any other politician in the country.

Also that insincere Jokeresque smile of his makes me want to vomit everytime it appears on his face.

Simon Gardner said...

Buckingham has never in living memory been counted on the Thursday night. The accompanying Aylesbury seat (same authority) always is.

Andy JS said...

Looking at the list above, it seems that 10 of the Tories' top 200 target seats are still counting on the Friday.

Some of those seats really have no excuse not to be counting on the night such as:

Cheltenham, Lancaster, NW Leics, Warwick, Morecambe, Oxford West, Norwich North.

The only ones that may have a case for delaying are Westmorland, Argyll, Copeland.

Scott_D said...

Lancaster and Fleetwood could be interesting. New seat combining the currently Conservative, but with big Green vote, Lancaster and fairly safe Labour Fleetwood. BTW, it is the only non-contiguous by land constituency in England (i.e. you can't get from the one bit to the other on land without going into another seat) - rather symbolic of the nonesense behind making it a constituency

Mrs Rigby said...

*pedant alert*
"NE Hanpshire"

That'll be Hampshire or NE Hants?

Fred Blogs said...

Me again.
The more I think about this, the more I think that the opinion polls are skewed. As an expat, I have never been contacted by a pollster (well, once for the European elections but never for a General Election). Neither has any of my expat friends here in the Netherlands or in Belgium or France. Since most of us can choose in which constituency we will vote (and we of course choose the marginals), doesn't this ( admittedly unfairly) make our votes worth more than the average safe-seat voter? And therefore well worth a call from the pollsters? Are the estimated 2 million expat voters given correct weighting in the opinion polls? I'd be interested to hear from the pollsters.

Hythlodaeus said...

Given that Argyll & Bute is known as one of the longest counts in country due to the logistical issues of getting ballot boxes to and from a dozen small islands, it's hardly fair to criticise it for taking this decision. It certainly means that the count will be quicker and easier to do then it would otherwise be.

Andy JS said...

Simon Gardner:

You're wrong. Buckingham has usually been counted on the night in recent elections. It was in 2005, 2001 and 1997:

Adrian said...

"Only 33 seats will count on Friday" ... and only about 150 or so will count, period.

longrun2 said...

I think that waiting for low tide to retrieve the ballot box from Holy Island rather than trying to fly out and back in the dark must seem sensible this week (regardless of expense)

Snowdon said...

I've never known (my home constituency) Skipton & Ripon announce its result before Friday afternoon. Not a big problem up there, as the result is never what you might call nail-biting. I suppose they could speed things up by weighing the Tory votes by the tonne, or, easier still, simply announcing a Conservative win at 10pm.

Andy JS said...

Someone on the Vote2007 forum has said that at a meeting of candidates and agents last night it was decided that the NW Leicestershire constituency will now count on election night.

That brings the number performing Friday counts down to 32.

But here's the odd thing: only 4 of those seats (excluding Buckingham) is not either a Tory seat or a plausible Tory target.

Those 4, as far as I can see, are: Berwick, Blyth Valley, Wansbeck, Warley.

The other 28 could all be won by the Conservatives. So the scenario of Cameron being kept waiting on Friday afternoon is still very much alive.

Bob Piper said...

Warley looks a strange inclusion. It is usually counted at the same time and place as West Bromwich East and West, and I'm fairly sure it will be doing so again... on Thursday.

Eoghan said...

Adrian got there before me. As we're tightening belts at the moment, I wonder how much money would be saved by not bothering holding elections in safe seats at all? As only a handful of seats count.

geoff said...

no reason why Blyth valley can not count on night.
Not a big geographical area but if Cons win this they will have a majority of over 200 so perhaps not too important in the scheme of things.

macuser_e7 said...

Shame about Copeland - I was looking forward to staying up and seeing how my old university chum Chris Whiteside did. It might have made the night bearable!

Simon Lewis said...

How can you not hold elections in safe seats. What is a safe seat? In 1997 Ilford North was Tory by 16k and ended up Labour by 4k. Amazing comment

Tory Totty Online said...

I can't believe Huntingdon wont count on Thursday!

Roger said...

Just to clarify the Wokingham situation, they will count the General Election votes on Thursday but will not be counting the Borough Council Election votes until Friday.

Andy JS said...

The number is still higher than in 1992 when only 19 British seats were scheduled to count on the Friday.

They were as follows (in the order they declared):

1. Berwick-upon-Tweed
2. Chelsea
3. Wentworth
4. Boothferry
5. Lewes
6. Rother Valley
7. Kensington
8. Truro
9. Skipton
10. Torridge & Devon W
11. Bridlington
12. Richmond (YORKS)
13. Argyll & Bute
14. Ludlow
15. Harborough
16. Gainsborough
17. Brecon & Radnor
18. Daventry
19. Buckingham