It's been several weeks since I have done a proper update on the cross-party campaign to Save General Election Night and ensure that counts are conducted on the Thursday night immediately after polling, rather than on the Friday – a move for which a number of Returning Officers are now pushing.
The Facebook group now has over 5,000 supporters, but today marks an important milestone for the campaign with the publication of an Early Day Motion in the Commons demonstrating widespread cross-party support in Parliament for the campaign.
It has been tabled by Labour MP and blogger Tom Harris, one of the campaign's co-founders, and Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles – another early supporter – has co-sponsored the motion, as have a Liberal Democrat MP and the parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru. In just a few hours yesterday, a total of 68 MPs from six parties had signed the motion and I pay tribute to and thank Tom for his work on this.
Early Day Motion 2033, which appears on today's order paper, reads as follows:
SAVE GENERAL ELECTION NIGHT
That this House is concerned at reports that growing numbers of
Returning Officers are considering postponing the counting of votes
cast on the day of the General Election until the day after polling;
believes that in the 21st century it would be a regressive move not to
announce constituency results as early as possible; further believes
that public confidence in the results could be undermined by delays in
the counting of ballot papers and that fewer voters would be able to
watch the results being announced if this were done on a Friday
afternoon; and calls on local authorities throughout the United Kingdom
to ensure that all ballot papers are counted immediately after the
close of polls on General Election night, as has been the practice in
previous General Elections.
Click here to see the up-to-date list of signatories and please lobby your MP to add their signature to the motion if they haven't already done so!
5.30pm update: Commenting on the increasing number of signatories in favour of the campaign, Eric Pickles told ConservativeHome:
"It is clear that across the political spectrum there is support for maintaining the election count on Thursday nights. The traditional Thursday night election coverage is possibly the only time that politics ignites the interest and imagination of the general public and it would be a retrograde step to sacrifice that. This is an idea dreamt up by the bureaucrats and will mean fewer people follow the coverage of this vitally important General Election."
Thursday morning update: The tally of MPs backing the motion has now reached 126.