Thursday, April 08, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Victory In Campaign For Election Night Counts

I bring good news. Returning Officers are in retreat and the campaign to restore election night counts across the country has been all but won. I am told that following the issuing of "guidance" by the Electoral Commission up to 100 Returning Officers have taken fright at the prospect of sanctions being imposed on them if they had gone ahead with Friday counts and changed their plans.

My sources tell me that only about 30 constituencies are sticking by their guns and counting on Friday, but this number may diminish even further if the Clause in the Constitutional Renewal Bill survives the wash up. Only seven of the thirty are Tory targets, so it looks as if we will know the election result by 6am on Friday morning after all.

You may have read in yesterday's Telegraph that there are still around 150 constituencies counting on Friday. This story was wrong. I assume the journalist just checked on the Electoral Commission website. The EC has updated their website this morning, but it is still, in fact, out of date. Their figures show 42 constituencies still counting on Friday with 69 still undecided. For instance, Ashfield, which the Telegraph had quoted as being counted on Friday (as per the EC list), is, in fact counting on Thursday. All the Birmingham constituencies are now being counted on Thursday as well as Chorley and the two Derby seats. Epping, South Suffolk and Waveney are among the constituencies which have changed from Friday to Thursday night.

This is a tremendous victory for those who have campaigned for counts to be held as soon as possible after polling closes. And credit to Jack Straw and the Ministry of Justice for responding to pressure.


This is the list of constituencies the Electoral Commission say are still intending to count on Friday... (any changes to this, please let me know!)

Amber Valley
Argyll & Bute
Berwick upon Tweed (confirmed for Friday)
Blyth Valley (confirmed for Friday)
Broadland (confirmed for Friday)
Norwich North (confirmed for Friday)
Central Suffolk & North Ipswich
Kenilworth & Southam
Lancaster & Fleetwood
Mid Bedfordshire
Morecambe & Lunesdale
NE Hampshire
NW Leicestershire
NW Norfolk
Oxford West & Abingdon
Saffron Walden
Selby & Ainsty
Skipton & Ripon
South Cambridgeshire
SE Cambridgeshire
SW Bedfordshire
SW Norfolk
St Ives (Have to wait for votes from Scilly Isles to be flown in)
Tiverton & Honiton
Torridge & W Devon
Warwick & Leamington
West Bromwich E
West Bromwich W
Westmorland & Lonsdale

UPDATE: Mid Beds, Preston, Harrogate and S Cambs are all now overnight on Thursday according to sources.

UPDATE 3.15pm: Wokingham is counting on Thursday too. Likewise Selby & Ainsty, and Tiverton & Honiton.


Pedant said...

Can't get onto the Electoral Commission list (updating?) but the last one showed all three Bradford seats on Thursday and Shipley and Keighley (also in Bradford) not. They will both also be counted on Thursday.

Colin said...

It's a shame Buckingham is still holding out - Bercow getting ousted by Farage would be a key highlight for the election night coverage!

davidc said...

in the olden days there used to be a race between two or three constituencies to be the first to declare but i suppose that has dropped in this brave new world for 'elf and safty' reasons or in case the 'loosers' get distressed

Desperate Dan said...

I hope the boxes will be kept secure and guarded by trustworthy people who can give assurances that there will be no scope for the electoral fraud associated with New Labour. Can we have some Zimbabwean and Afghan observers to see fair play?

CP Dexter Huxley said...

Source? EC list still has Ashfield counting on Friday

Iain Dale said...

Unlike the Daily Telegraph I actually took the trouble of ringing Ashfield, who confirmed they would be counting on Thursday night.

William said...

Argyll and Bute is the only one of the 59 Scottish seats which is being allowed to declare on the 7th---lots of small islands as well as land mass.
Well done Western Isles, and Orkney and Shetland, for overcoming similar problems.

Van Helsing said...

Could someone enlighten me; Wantage Warley is that one or two Constituencies?

CP Dexter Huxley said...

Thanks for the journalism. Holding counts as soon as possible on election night surely adds to voter engagement.

Twig said...

Why do polling stations provide pencils instead of biros?

Is it so that the ballot paper can be corrected if the voter puts his cross in the wrong box?

If I used my own biro would the ballot paper still be counted?

Anonymous said...

The problem is still postal votes. I am not an admirer of SNP, but what they said about Kirckaldy by-election should be carefully noted by all opposition parties. The postal votes need careful checking. Where there large ethnic minority population the postal ballots must be doubly scrutinised. Labour is upto anything as long as it delivers them votes.

John said...

St Ives only counts on Friday because they have to wait for the ballot boxes to be flown over from the Isles of Scilly

Anonymous said...

Hi Iain,

St. Ives has always counted on the day after the election because there are no night flights to and from the Scillies that could return ballot boxes to the central count.

Alasdair said...

My understanding is that Warwick and Leamington are counting on hard evidence though, just what I've been told.

Andy JS said...

iCowboy is wrong.

St Ives counted on the night in 1987 and 1992 and managed to declare the result by 3am on both occasions.

Why do so many people never check their facts?