Wednesday, January 27, 2010

256 Returning Officers remain undecided on Thursday night count

Some may recall back in September last year there was a little fuss about the night of the General Election and plans to hold the counts the following day by some constituencies and local authorities. This produced a cross party supported campaign started by ConservativeHome to Save General Election Night!. The original reporting in the Sunday Times said,
Electoral returning officers in as many as one in four local authorities are considering abandoning the traditional Thursday night count.
Well, those figures have slightly changed it seems and it could be almost one in two now. The Electoral Commission it seems asked all the Returning Officers what their plans were, and has told Parliament that,

In summary, as of 7 January 2010, returning officers for 586 out of 650 constituencies had provided information. Of these, 52 currently do not plan to count ballot papers on the evening of polling day at the general election. A further 17 have indicated they may defer counting in the event that the general election is combined with local authority elections, and 187 were still undecided.
The official document which I presume details the constituencies has been placed in the Commons Library - not yet online - so it remains possible that if those 52 declared and a possible further 204 authorities decide to hold the counts on Friday we won't have a new Government until teatime Friday and possibly even Saturday morning if there are recounts.

The cross-party Facebook group designed to pressure Returning Officers not to abandon the traditional night count remains open. If you want to make sure the result is known as soon as possible I suggest writing to the Returning Officer in your constituency expressing your views and asking them to make a decision one way or the other.
Hansard Source
Electoral Commission

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