Will you be staying up late on Thursday to see the election results come in? I’m planning to – assuming I can stay awake. I think I’ll watch Channel 4’s coverage of things, with a few checks to see what’s happening on the BBC.
I’m usually a bit more closely involved when there is an election on: I work in local government and in the past have often been one of the people sitting counting up the votes, late into the night. It’s a stressful, tiring, repetitive,and yet interesting job to do. Election counts often take place in local sports halls, and there are a lot of people involved. The election candidates and their associates are allowed to walk around and watch you as you work, which can be unnerving – they are looking to see if you’ve missed a vote, or mis-counted. On top of that, the local and national press may well be filming the event and broadcasting live from the site.
In the UK, we’re allowed to vote up until 10pm – at that point, the staff from each of the polling stations shut up shop, and drive the votes that have been cast during the day to a central venue for the area, where they are all counted together. It makes for a very long day – polling stations open at 7am, and so when counting finally gets started at around 10.30pm, people have been up and working for a long time. If the result is close, there could even be a recount – this means all the votes get counted again, and of course by this time it’s even later at night and people are really flagging. Where I live, it’s a safe seat – so there’s unlikely to be a call for a recount. But you never know – it seems like there is change in the air this year.