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> The Election Night Thread, Including your guide to election night
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Suedehead2
post Jun 7 2017, 09:42 PM
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So, today is the big day and many of us will be up all night to follow the results. The whole process can be a bit confusing for people who have not followed a General Election before, with a lot of jargon. Your ever-friendly Buzzjack team can help. Our favourite Politics graduate and I produced the Suedehead / Tirren guide to Election Night two years ago. Here is the remastered 2017 version.

The 2015 version didn’t mention Northern Ireland. That has been put right this time. The Northern Ireland section was written by Brett-Butler.

In the second post, there is a glossary of terms which you will hear a lot. It includes all of the words in italics in this FAQ.



What is this?

The UK is split into 650 seats (also known as constituencies), each with about 70-80,000 voters, and each represented by a Member of Parliament. At the last general election, the Conservatives won 330 of those seats, Labour won 232, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 56 the Lib Dems won eight, and various other parties (such as Plaid Cymru, the Northern Irish parties, UKIP and the Greens) won the rest.

This time, both Labour and the Conservatives will be aiming to win at least 325 seats (known as a majority - i.e., having enough seats where even if every other party voted against them, they could still win a vote and pass laws), while the smaller parties like the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid, the Greens and the Northern Irish will be hoping neither Labour nor the Conservatives win a majority and that they win enough seats to be influential over the next government.

At the start of this campaign the only question seemed to be how large the Tory majority would be. However, the gap between the Tories and Labour in the opinion polls has narrowed so there is still an outside chance that they won’t get a majority at all.


What is the exit poll?

The BBC, ITV and Sky News have joined forces to commission a poll to predict the overall result. By making sure that overall the people asked for the poll are demographically representative of UK voters, this survey will be used to try and get an accurate picture of how the UK has voted and how many seats each party will have. Over the years, some exit polls have been very accurate (this happened in 2005 and 2010). Others have not.

It is illegal to publish an exit poll before the polls close, so the result of this poll will be announced on all the major channels at 10pm.



What about Northern Ireland? Why do they have different parties from the rest of the UK?

Unlike the rest of the UK, political parties aren’t normally split into parties of the left or right in Northern Ireland. The biggest parties are split between those that want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom (unionists), and parties that want Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland (nationalists, or republicans).

The two main unionist parties are –
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who have 8 seats in the House of Commons
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who have 2 seats in the House of Commons.

The two main nationalist parties are –
Sinn Fein, who have 4 MPs
Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP), who have 3 MPs.

There are other parties that do not identify as either unionist or nationalist who only stand in Northern Ireland. The biggest of these are the Alliance Party, who do not have any MPs, but have in the past.

Because the political system is so different in Northern Ireland, major parties in the United Kingdom do not usually stand in for elections in Northern Ireland. Labour and the Liberal Democrats don’t stand candidates in Northern Ireland, and UKIP is not contesting any seats in Northern Ireland. Although the Conservatives do run in elections in Northern Ireland, they have never won any seats - it is rare for any of their candidates to poll more than 1,000 votes. The Greens have a Northern Ireland party, but it is not officially connected to the party in England & Wales, although it does share similar values.

There are 18 people elected in Northern Ireland. In addition to the 17 mentioned above, Lady Sylvia Hermon is an independent M.P, who was previously a member of the UUP.

It should be noted that if Sinn Fein win any seats, they will not become MPs, as the party does not recognise the UK parliament due to their strong republican beliefs.

Northern Ireland MPs will normally be part of the opposition within parliament, unless they form part of a coalition government. If this happens, it is possible that the DUP or UUP will join a coalition with the Conservative Party, due to their shared unionist position.


CONSTITUENCY RESULTS

When will the results start?

By midnight, a few constituencies will have declared (mostly in safe Labour seats). The rush will start at around 2 am. As a rule throughout the night until the overall result starts to become clear, the number to watch isn't the total for each party on the screen but the net change (the pluses and minuses next to the party totals, indicating how many seats each party has lost/gained).



Why do some counts take so long?

The count cannot start until all the ballot boxes have been verified. That means that the number of ballot papers in the box must agree with the number issued. The number in the box may be slightly short if some people have left without putting their paper in the box.

In some constituencies, it can take some time for all the ballot boxes to arrive at the count. This tear, for the first time since 1992, the general election is not taking place on the same day as local elections. In the last few elections the ballot papers for the local and general elections have had to be separated before the verification process can begin. (The ballot papers for the two elections are different colours to make this process easier.) That won’t happen this year so the results should be a little quicker than last time.



How are the results declared?

In films and television dramas, candidates are often shown to be amazed / outraged / whatever, when the result is announced. This is wrong. They already know the result.

When the count has been completed, the candidates and their agents will gather round the Returning Officer. They will be shown the result and all the papers which have been classified as spoilt. If the result is close, or one candidate has lost their deposit by a small margin, the candidate can ask for a recount. The Returning Officer has to decide whether to grant the request. There is no statutory limit to the number of recount requests that can be made. The Returning Officer has to decide when to call a halt.

If the result is very close (within 50 or so), there may be a full recount. Effectively, they have to check every vote. If it is within a couple hundred, there may be a partial recount or a “bundle check” to see that each pile of fifty votes is correct and that it hasn’t been put into the wrong pile. As all parties will have people watching the count, it is unlikely to happen on a large scale, but accidents do happen.

When the result is agreed, the Returning Officer will then announce it. All the candidates line up on stage and the Returning Officer will list the candidates in alphabetical order with the number of votes they won.

After the result is announced, each candidate, starting with the winner, may give a speech. They will thank the Returning Officer and other staff before making some other remarks. The broadcasters may show some of the early speeches (when there is little else to show), plus some from prominent politicians such as Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.



When will my constituency result be announced?

That is not an easy question! In the last few elections Sunderland South has been declared before 11.00 with the other results from Sunderland following soon after. However, most places are nowhere near as quick.

Predicting declaration times is very difficult but there are people prepared to give it a go. One list can be found here - http://election.pressassociation.com/declaration_times.php. However, don’t be surprised if some of those estimates are very wrong.




Which seats should I be watching out for?

Channels like the BBC will normally show live results for particularly contested seats, but when results start coming through fast (probably around 2 a.m. as mentioned above) they won't be able to keep up with all of the results in swing seats.

Generally, to get an idea on how a general election result is going, the best thing to do is to keep an eye on the parties target lists. A list of target seats for each party can be found here - http://www.electionpolling.co.uk/battleground. Note that these lists are based purely on the winning margin last time. In practice, the real lists for a party are a little more sophisticated, taking into account local conditions.

The Tories need to lose just six seats to lose their majority although they would almost certain continue in government if they fall just short of a majority. The Labour Party need to win fifty seats from the Tories (assuming no other seats change hands) to become the largest party.



What if there is a tie?

In a General Election, this is very rare. Indeed, it has never happened since universal suffrage (when all adults gained the right to vote). However, this is what would happen. If there is a tie for first place, there will be at least one full recount (see above). If there is a tie in any other position, the Returning Officer may not allow a recount. If, after a number of recounts, it is agreed that the result really is a tie, we enter the realms of the absurd. The candidates will draw lots. The precise method is up to the Returning Officer, but it must be truly random. A common method is to put one of each candidate’s votes into a box and then drawing one out. The winning candidate will have one vote added to their total so, officially, they will have a majority of one.

If there is a tie in the number of seats (which, though still highly unlikely, is possible), things get interesting.



THE OVERALL RESULT


When will we know who won?

That depends on your definition of winning! If the Tories end up winning a landslide after all, that will be clear by around 3am (or even before that). If it is rather closer, we should still have a good idea of the result by the time people who went to bed are getting up. The last results (in seats where they don’t start until Friday morning) should be declared by Friday afternoon / early evening.


But, won’t the leader of the largest party become PM?

Not necessarily. The Prime Minister is the leader who can get a majority in the House Of Commons. In most elections since the War, either Labour or the Tories have had more than half of the MPs, so their leader automatically became PM. However, if no party wins at least half the seats (which currently means they need 326 seats), things become more complicated.

By convention, the Prime Minister remains in charge until an alternative leader can demonstrate that they can command a majority in the House Of Commons. Therefore, despite what some papers claimed in 2010, Gordon Brown was right to stay in Number 10 while coalition negotiations were going on. Indeed, it was his duty to do so as somebody has to be PM. In the same way, Theresa May has every right to stay in Number 10 unless and until Jeremy Corbyn can show that he has the support of a majority of MPs.

All ministers will retain their posts (even if they are no longer an MP) until a new government is formed.

There are more questions on this. As they depend on the actual result, they can be discussed on the night and, if applicable, in the following days.


When will the Prime Minister go to see the Queen?

If Theresa May remains as Prime Minister there is no need for her to go to see the Queen at all. Things just carry on as before although it is very likely that a lot of ministers will be changed over the weekend.

If Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister he will see the Queen within hours of the outcome bing clear. If he wins a majority, he is likely to go to the Palace around lunchtime or early afternoon.


Why does one party have more votes than another but fewer seats?

This is because of the First Past The Post system that we use for elections. Last time UKIP got more votes than the Lib Dems but only one seat while the Lib Dems won eight. On two occasions since the War (1951 and February 1974) the party with the most votes did not win the most seats. If Labour and the Tories win almost the same number of votes, the Tories will almost certainly win more seats and may still get a majority.

As a way of demonstrating why this happens, imagine three seats, each with 50 voters. In Seat 1, the Harry Styles Party gets 20 votes and the Liam Horan Party gets 21 votes, while the Zayn Party gets 9 votes. The same result happens in Seat 2. In Seat 3, the Harry Styles Party gets 26 votes and the Zayn Party gets 24 votes, while Liam Horan gets none.

The total? Liam Horan wins with 2 seats and 42 votes, Harry Styles comes second with 1 seat and 66 votes, and Zayn gets 42 votes too but doesn't win any seats. If some of Zayn’s voters in Seat 1 had been in Seat 3, she may have won a seat, and if some of Harry Styles’ voters in Seat 3 had been in Seat 1, he may have won the election.

In some seats, Labour or the Conservatives (or the SNP) will get huge majorities over other parties, while doing badly (or getting none) elsewhere, whereas some other parties (like UKIP last time)may consistently get a few thousand votes across most seats but rarely enough to win. As a result, the number of votes a party gets overall does not match how many seats it will get.



Why are ITV and Sky News declaring results before the BBC?

The BBC only declare results when they have been formally declared. The other two broadcasters declare “predicted” results, based on what reporters at the count can see. They will see the bundles piling up for each candidate and can use that to predict the result. Most of those “predictions” will be obvious anyway. For a running total of seats actually won, use the BBC figure - it is more reliable as it only goes on results already known for certain.
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Suedehead2
post Jun 7 2017, 09:43 PM
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Here is a glossary of some of the terms that will be used a lot. Some of them have been highlighted above.


Turnout.

The proportion of registered voters in a constituency who actually voted.


Swing.

This is rapidly becoming an outdated concept. Traditionally, it has been a measure of the net shift in votes between two parties. So, a 3% swing from Tories to Labour means that three in every hundred people who voted Tory last time, have voted Labour this time. However, it is generally based on the assumption that the share of the vote won by other parties has stayed the same. Nevertheless, it is still a rough guide to how well or badly parties are doing.



Returning Officer

The person who oversees the election and (usually) declares the result. It is generally the Chief Executive of the council (i.e. the senior officer). They often describe themselves as the “acting Returning Officer”. That is because, for most of the year, there is no Returning Officer, so they are simply assuming the role for a day. Some results are declared by the Mayor, but the count is still overseen by the Returning Officer.


Agent

Every candidate must nominate an agent (which may be the candidate him / herself). The agent has to keep account of all expenditure in the campaign and ensure that their campaign is not breaking the rules. An agent for a candidate with a good chance of winning is likely to know a lot about electoral law as their accounts will be closely scrutinised by their opponents. An agent who falsifies the accounts (or does not submit them on time), or oversees a campaign that breaks the law could go to prison.


Spoilt Paper

A ballot paper that has not been marked correctly. Technically, the only mark on a ballot paper should be a cross by the name of the preferred candidate. In practice, a tick is generally accepted. However, for an election of an MP, there must be a mark (a tick or a cross) in one box, and one box only, and no other mark. A paper with a tick in one box and a cross in all the others will be considered spoilt. Any written comments (or illustrations) will mean the paper is declared spoilt. In general, there is no dispute about spoilt papers.



Lost deposit

Every candidate has to pay a deposit of £500. If they receive less than 5% of the total vote, they lose that deposit. The money goes to the government. In theory, it helps to cover the cost of the election.



Safe seat

Traditionally, this has been defined as a seat where the winner was at least 10 percentage points ahead of the second-placed candidate. In other words, it would require a swing (see definition above) of at least 5% for the seat to change hands. In more recent elections, a lot of seats defined as “safe” under this definition have proved to be anything but safe.


Marginal seat

Traditionally, this has been defined as a seat where the winner won by under ten percentage points. See “Safe seat” for reasons why this definition is now rather dated.
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Suedehead2
post Jun 8 2017, 08:18 AM
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One other observation about today...

News programmes seem a little odd today as the election is hardly mentioned. That is because there are heavy restrictions on what broadcasters can say on an election day. They are not allowed to say much more than "There is an election today. Some people have voted". That is also why the breakfast programmes haven't shown the newspaper front pages.
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Bairlas
post Jun 8 2017, 08:19 AM
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That's not a bad thing, given that the Sun's front page is an affront to decency
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Suedehead2
post Jun 8 2017, 08:33 AM
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QUOTE(Silas @ Jun 8 2017, 09:19 AM) *
That's not a bad thing, given that the Sun's front page is an affront to decency

If anything yesterday's were worse. They, of course, could be shown on television. As there were several papers trying to link Corbyn with terrorists, there has to be more than just a suspicion that the front pages were concocted in Tory Central Office.
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Bairlas
post Jun 8 2017, 08:35 AM
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The need for real and proper regulation of the press is getting beyond the point of urgency. That they can print things they know to be untrue because the regulator is so weak they'll never actually face any consequences is a joke.

Had the press been properly regulated I don't think that we'd have left the EU
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Hisspot
post Jun 8 2017, 10:50 AM
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QUOTE(Silas @ Jun 8 2017, 09:35 AM) *
The need for real and proper regulation of the press is getting beyond the point of urgency. That they can print things they know to be untrue because the regulator is so weak they'll never actually face any consequences is a joke.


A balance needs to be found though that doesn't restrict free speech.

A regulator run with the backing of celebrities/public figures that are only in it so they can stop true details about them they don't want to be reported is not great either.


This post has been edited by Spinfanny: Jun 8 2017, 10:51 AM
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Brett-Butler
post Jun 8 2017, 10:54 AM
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Thanks Suedehead/Tirren for putting this guide together, and more that glad to be able to contribute to it myself.
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Suedehead2
post Jun 8 2017, 10:57 AM
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QUOTE(Spinfanny @ Jun 8 2017, 11:50 AM) *
A balance needs to be found though that doesn't restrict free speech.

A regulator run with the backing of celebrities/public figures that are only in it so they can stop true details about them they don't want to be reported is not great either.

Part of the problem in an election campaign is that papers can publish blatant lies knowing that any legal action against them will not take place until long after that election. By then the damage will have been done. Of course, identifying a solution that doesn't place too many restrictions on a free press is rather harder than identifying the problem.
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Hisspot
post Jun 8 2017, 11:02 AM
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Northern Ireland does have a sort of left wing/right wing division, actually that is becoming more important now than it used to be. Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance are left wing (Sinn Fein probably most left wing) and the two unionist parties are right wing (probably the DUP the most so).

Anyway it looks like in NI, the SDLP and UUP are going to have a dreadful night sadly. At least Alliance will do well enough though.
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Brett-Butler
post Jun 8 2017, 11:06 AM
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QUOTE(Spinfanny @ Jun 8 2017, 12:02 PM) *
Northern Ireland does have a sort of left wing/right wing division, actually that is becoming more important now than it used to be. Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance are left wing (Sinn Fein probably most left wing) and the two unionist parties are right wing (probably the DUP the most so).

Anyway it looks like in NI, the SDLP and UUP are going to have a dreadful night sadly. At least Alliance will do well enough though.


Indeed, I would have specified that the unionist parties are more right leaning and the nationalist parties are more left leaning, although by and large it's the nationalist/unionist split that is more pronounced here.
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vidcapper
post Jun 8 2017, 11:08 AM
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QUOTE(Suedehead2 @ Jun 8 2017, 09:33 AM) *
If anything yesterday's were worse. They, of course, could be shown on television. As there were several papers trying to link Corbyn with terrorists, there has to be more than just a suspicion that the front pages were concocted in Tory Central Office.


So, are you flat-out denying Corbyn has ever has links with terrorists?
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Suedehead2
post Jun 8 2017, 12:22 PM
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QUOTE(vidcapper @ Jun 8 2017, 12:08 PM) *
So, are you flat-out denying Corbyn has ever has links with terrorists?

He spoke to both sides in Northern Ireland and did nothing overtly to support violence by either side. He was open about his discussions at the same time as Tory ministers were meeting the same people in secret.
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Bairlas
post Jun 8 2017, 08:55 PM
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Right sluts. 5 minutes to the polls close and we get our grubby mits on the exit polling which will forecast 5 years of utter doom and gloom for the country.
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Brett-Butler
post Jun 8 2017, 08:56 PM
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Get ready for the Dimbledance!
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Cherry.
post Jun 8 2017, 08:56 PM
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HERE WE GO
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Jade
post Jun 8 2017, 08:57 PM
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READY for my first ever general election disappointment! I mean... G'WON JEZZA
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Capybréra
post Jun 8 2017, 08:58 PM
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I want to die already cheer.gif
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Brett-Butler
post Jun 8 2017, 08:59 PM
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I've got butterflies waiting. Something unexpected could happen

...or not.
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Bairlas
post Jun 8 2017, 08:59 PM
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North East declarations anticipated before 11pm with Sunderland and Newcastle going head to head to be the first to declare
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