UK Politics

AV voting referendum count delayed until next day

Votes in the planned referendum on changing the voting system will not be counted until the next day.

Parliament is debating plans for a poll on switching to the Alternative Vote for Westminster elections.

The referendum would be held on 5 May - the same day as elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Electoral Commission said election results should be counted first and the referendum votes in Britain would be counted from 4pm on Friday 6 May.

There has been a political row over the date for the referendum - as well as the devolved elections, there will also be elections to 280 local authorities in England and local elections in Northern Ireland.

Deputy PM Nick Clegg said holding it on the same day as the other elections would save £17m and is more convenient for voters. Some Tory MPs have suggested it could skew the result. Nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales have also complained it could confuse voters and will distract from the devolved elections.

Electoral Commission chairwoman Jenny Watson said: "It is important that voters know who represents them, and who will form new governments and councils, as soon as possible.

"Starting the referendum count the next day means that the counts for the scheduled elections can take place as soon as possible after the close of poll, while also allowing the result of the referendum to be counted on a UK wide basis, and known in good time. "

She will direct the 437 local counting officers across Britain to start counting at 4pm the day after the referendum - Friday 6 May. In Northern Ireland, the Chief Electoral Officer is in charge of the referendum.

The Electoral Commission said, "barring any unforeseen circumstances that delay the count" the overall result should be available that evening.

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