Assembly election night count call for north Wales

Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas
Image caption Lord Elis Thomas says voters expect to get the election results on the night

The assembly's presiding office, Dafydd Elis Thomas, is calling for counting in the Welsh election to be carried out overnight in north Wales.

Counting in May's 2011 vote is taking place overnight in most of the country.

But returning officers for assembly seats across the north Wales region have decided to start their counts in the morning.

Lord Elis Thomas, speaking as chair of the Assembly Commission, said overnight counting "makes politics interesting".

"I think people who are interested in politics, and who have bothered to turn out to vote, expect to have the result in a timely fashion - which means as soon as possible," he insisted on BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement programme.

"We expect to see results and this is what makes politics interesting."

In his role as chair of the Assembly Commission - which ensures property, staff and services are provided for the assembly - Lord Elis Thomas has written to the north Wales regional returning officer, Mohammed Mehmet, to raise his concerns and those of all four party leaders in the assembly.

"It is, however, clear from your reply that at no time was the national assembly or any of its committees or members prior to dissolution consulted on this matter," he said in the letter to Mr Mehmet.

He asked that the count of the first-past-the-post seats in the election were counted overnight, "so that the results of the Welsh general election will be made known to the electorate on the same timescale throughout the country".

'High risk'

Officials face the task of counting three different ballot papers following voting on 5 May, for individual assembly seats, regional list seats, and for the UK referendum on the alternative voting system to elect members of parliament.

A meeting is taking place Monday of all the returning officers in north Wales, at which final decisions on the counting arrangements are expected to be taken.

But in replying to the presiding officer's letter, Mr Mehmet says changing the current timetable for counting ballots at this stage "carries high risk".

He stated that he had consulted with the Electoral Commission on the issue, and was assured that the planning arrangements for counts in north Wales were "sound".

He added: "The commission is actually concerned about the risks involved in counting throughout the night in some other areas.

"I assure the presiding officer that this region's planning for the elections has been thorough and of course followed due process."

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