Monday, March 22, 2010

A sklightly rueful mutter about the sucess of 'save Traditional Election Night' 

It may be a Thursday night count in name… but the result may be ‘gone’ for some time…

Take this example.

Milton Keynes was going to count its vote on a Friday morning but thanks to the upcoming legislation is switching to a Thursday 10pm start. That is for both the MK parliamentary seats and for the local election counts too… when the results will actually be announced is not dramatically clear.

The RO for this double Parliamentary count has never had to handle a general election and local election combined poll day before (1997, 2001 and 2005 were the off-years in our election-by-thirds cycle). So we are concentrating on verifying the ballot papers in all boxes (parliamentary and local) as we cannot proceed with the actual count until it is proved that no ballot papers are in the wrong boxes. No start on the main Parliamentary count until ALL local boxes are also verified. The actual counting into candidate bundles has to start by 2am on Friday for both seats according to the ‘New Law’ and MK may be able to complete verification and actually do this – but on this timetable declared results are not to be expected much before dawn.

It is a good thing we are counting in the social hall of StadiumMK not our previously used sports halls as the stadium has excellent bars and food outlets (which I understand will be open all night) and comfy seats away from the count floor for shattered staff to crash into. Also I think TV screens to see the results from other places – though maybe if other seats have similar experiences the midnight drama of election night Thursday night TV programmes will be much less fact-filled than desired.

So I ruefully contemplate a LibDem work day stretching from 6am Thursday Good Morning deliveries through running a committee room and on to verification duties at 10 pm finishing with 4 am Parliamentary declarations next day. And back to count the Local Election Results from 1pm Friday. This assumes no Parliamentary recounts and as both MK seats are effectively ties on the ‘nominal results for 2005’ calculations after boundary changes that may be an interesting assumption.

Just for a moment I wish the Save Traditional Election Night agitation had gone the other way.


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