Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Cornwall will have to think again on election counts

Last night MPs backed an amendment to the Constitutional Reform Bill requiring all general election counts to start within 4 hours of the close of polls. This means that Cornwall Council will have to think again about plans to hold our counts the next day.

Along with colleagues on the Electoral Review Panel, I had expressed concerns that the Council is proposing to hold all our counts on the Friday - the final decision lies with the Returning Officer Kevin Lavery.

Whilst the St Ives count might be a special case because of the need to get ballot boxes from Scilly, I see no reason why we should be abandoning election night. As my friend Mark Pack has stated on a number of occasions, election night counts can be better and more secure than Friday counts.

The variable in this whole debate is as to whether or not the Constitutional Reform Bill will make it into law before the general election. If it does, then it appears Mr Lavery will have no choice. However, even if the Bill does not become law, there is a clear message being sent on the issue.


Andy JS said...

Hi Alex,

I thought you might be interested to know that in the 1992 election the St Ives count took place on the night (including of course the Scilly Isles votes) and the result was declared at about 3am despite being a pretty close run thing between Conservative David Harris and LibDem Andrew George (as you probably know).

The interesting thing is that I've read a number of comments on various political blogs about how a lot of seats have a "tradition" of counting on the Friday morning/afternoon.

In fact in 2005 only five British seats did so: St Ives, Berwick, Argyll, Skipton, and Hexham.

Of these, St Ives and Hexham both counted on the night in 1992, so only 3 seats have always counted on the Friday as far as I know. Hardly a big "tradition".

In 2001 the figure was just six seats, and in 1997 only ten seats (excl. Northern Ireland).

You can see the St Ives result come through on this YouTube video at 1 min 10 secs (while John Prescott is talking):


Alex Folkes said...

Andy - Thanks so much for the detailed comments. They certainly back up the idea that virtually any seat can count on the night if needs be