Hunts MP claims victory in bid to have general election votes counted overnight

THE count for the general election looks set to take place overnight after all. Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly is claiming victory in his bid to have Huntingdonshire votes – and those elsewhere in the country – counted on election night. Labour last week

THE count for the general election looks set to take place overnight after all.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly is claiming victory in his bid to have Huntingdonshire votes - and those elsewhere in the country - counted on election night.

Labour last week backed a Conservative amendment to the Constitutional Reform Bill, which if passed, would allow this to happen.

The amendment would insist on the count taking place within four hours of the polls closing.

Returning officer for Huntingdon David Monks, chief executive of Huntingdonshire District Council and an expert in electoral law, had been planning for the count to start at about 9am on the Friday after the general election - probably at the Burgess Hall in St Ives.

Mr Monks has said it is unreasonable to expect his staff to work what is for some a 24-hour shift - he says accuracy is the priority and not entertainment.

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However, the move away from an overnight count sparked concern among politicians who moved for an amendment which would force a quick count.

Mr Djanogly, who has been electioneering in the HDC Fenstanton by-election, told The Hunts Post: "This was my suggestion. I went to Eleanor Laing, the Shadow Minister for Justice, after I had looked at the new Constitution Reform Bill and realised that it was wide enough to include elections.

"We added an amendment to force the count of votes to be held on election night and so many Labour MPs agreed with it that the Government was forced to include it.

"If we want to increase the vote and keep people's interest in the ballot, then elections should not lose their mystique. It is unacceptable that a minority of constituencies can put the government of the country on hold for a day. We just have to hope now that the mechanics can be put in place."

Mr Monks said his position was unchanged.

He said on Tuesday that the amendment to the Bill provides that the count has to start within four hours of the polls closing and points to the fact that the Bill had not yet been passed.

He said Huntingdon had a history of starting the count on the following day, up until John Major's won the seat in the 1990s.

Mr Monks said it was important to achieve an accurate result and that was not best done with tired staff starting work at 4am.

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