U-turn as Election count to start on the night

First published in Henley

THE drama of late-night election counts has been brought back to three Oxfordshire constituencies after the man overseeing the elections was forced into a U-turn.

Acting returning officer David Buckle had decided vote-counting in the Henley, Oxford West & Abingdon, and Wantage constituencies would take place on Friday, May 7 — hours after most people had found out who their new MPs were.

But two weeks ago MPS voted to force returning officers to take all reasonable steps to start counts within four hours of the polls closing, so Mr Buckle has backed down and announced counting will start on the night of Thursday, May 6.

It means people watching the election results on television will be able to find our who their new MPs are before they go to bed.

Mr Buckle said: "There are increased risks with an immediate count, particularly as I will have key staff working through the night having already been active since early morning on polling day. The potential for mistakes is undoubtedly higher, which will mean more checks and balances being put in place.

"Ultimately, however, the will of parliament is for an immediate count. I accept this and am therefore putting in place measures to allow us to comply with the legislation.”

The Conservative candidate for Henley, John Howell, who had criticised delaying the counts, said he was "delighted" at the decision.

He said: "We have now got the possibility of the public getting really engaged with the election process on TV."

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