With the number of MPs who have signed the Save General Election Night early day motion almost standing at 200, and the Facebook group membership having almost reached 5,500, Tory chairman Eric Pickles has been seeking further information about the extent of plans by Returning Officers to switch counting at the next general election to the Friday morning.
In one written question last week, he received an assurance that local authorities do not need to bear the costs of running elections. Justice Minister Michael Wills replied:
"Returning officers are entitled to recover their charges in respect of
services rendered or expenses incurred at parliamentary elections if
they were necessarily rendered or incurred for the efficient and
effective conduct of the election and they do not exceed the overall maximum recoverable
amount specified in an Order made by the Secretary of State. Provision
is made for this purpose from the consolidated fund."
In a separate question, addressed to Gary Streeter in his capacity representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, he asked "what
information the Electoral Commission has collected about the number of
local authorities considering commencing their counts at the next
general election on the day after polling day?"
The reply was as follows:
"The Electoral Commission informs me that it wrote to Returning
Officers for all UK parliamentary constituencies in September 2009
requesting information about when they intend to begin the counting of
ballot papers for the UK parliamentary general election.
of 21 October 2009, the Commission informs me that it had received
responses from Returning Officers for 247 out of 650 constituencies.
Returning Officers for 134 constituencies reported that they planned to
begin counting on the evening of polling day. Returning Officers for 27
constituencies reported that they planned to begin counting on the
morning of the day following polling day. Returning Officers for 86
constituencies reported that they had not yet decided when they would
begin counting. Over the coming weeks the Commission will be actively
seeking responses from Returning Officers who have yet to reply.
spreadsheet detailing responses received by constituency, at 21 October
2009, has been placed in the House of Commons Library. This information
is also available on the Commission website and will be updated
The spreadsheet is available to view here, although 247 out of 650 seems a very poor response rate after a month. Watch this sapce for further details…