Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Why do counts take so long?

I have always been keen on election nights. There is excitement mixed with fatigue that leads to more excitement. However there is a limit to this great drama which unfolds in the early hours of Friday morning. If fatigue becomes sleepwalking then this is not a good experience. In July this year there was a by-election in Norwich North and the council there decided to count the votes on the morning. It seems that many other councils are now following suit.

Now what generally happens is that the polls close at 10pm and there are exit polls telling us who has won within minutes. To get the actual results you have to wait a little longer and in the meantime the politicians who are losing tell us that we will have to await the official results.

Around about 11.30pm we get the first results and there is a race to win this race which has ususally been won by Sunderland South. This is not a marginal constituency. If it were then you would expect counting to take longer. I think they do use traditional methods of counting but they could count by the bucket full and still get the correct result.

An increased postal vote and the checks that go along with this have delayed voting but I have been up till 5am waiting for my result. I heard Radio Lancashire saying that they don't know why my constituency takes so long and one person guessed that it was because some polling stations were at a distance from the count. I have heard today that they are going to begin the count on the following morning, but why should there be such a difference in the time it takes to count the votes? I can drive anywhere in this constituency within 30 minutes especially at 11pm on a Thursday night.

It looks like most of the population are losing interest in general elections and this dramatic loss will not help their apathy.

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