Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 10:01 UK

Keep election night drama say MPs

Ballot box
MPs believe all votes should be counted at the same time

Nearly 70 MPs are backing a campaign to ensure all votes at the next general election are counted in a single night.

MPs are worried that the traditional election night drama is under threat as more constituencies consider holding their counts the following afternoon.

An early day motion calling for counting to began immediately after the polls shut has been signed by 68 MPs.

Signatories include Tory chairman Eric Pickles, former minister Tom Harris and Lib Dem frontbencher Norman Baker.


Early day motions are not debated in Parliament but are a way for MPs to show their support for certain issues.

The motion was launched amid reports that as many as one in four councils are reported to be considering abandoning the traditional Thursday night count in favour of one on Friday.

New postal voting rules and higher staff costs are among reasons thought to be behind those considering delays to counts.

Counting in the recent Norwich North by-election took place the following morning.

The cross-party motion - entitled save general election night - states that it would be a "regressive move not to announce constituency results as soon as possible".

It says any delay in the counting of votes could "undermine" public confidence in the election and that fewer people would be able to watch events unfold if counting took place on Friday afternoon.

The Conservatives wrote to Justice Secretary Jack Straw last month urging him to give strong advice to councils carrying out general election counts, saying consistency of timing was vital.

They say changes to "traditional practices" of vote counting should be considered by Parliament and central government has a right to intervene because it is paying for the counts.

The next general election has to take place by June 2010.

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