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Most Norfolk councils to ditch overnight election counts

PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:39 02 July 2010

Only two of Norfolk's nine constituencies will definitely follow the traditional night time counting of general election votes this year

Only two of Norfolk's nine constituencies will definitely follow the traditional night time counting of general election votes this year

Ed Foss

Only two of Norfolk's nine constituencies will definitely follow the traditional night time counting of general election votes this year, with critics claiming it will ruin the television tension of election night and increase the danger of fraud.

Only two of Norfolk's nine constituencies will definitely follow the traditional night time counting of general election votes this year, with critics claiming it will ruin the television tension of election night and increase the danger of fraud.

The county will be left trailing the rest of the country informing the public who their new MPs will be - a fact labelled “outrageous” by South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.

Next day counting is expected to be common at this year's poll, with around a third of local authorities predicted to count on Friday morning rather than Thursday night, but the picture in Norfolk appears to be worse than any other part of the country.

Only North Norfolk and Norwich South have guaranteed counts on the night, with Great Yarmouth doing the same as long as the general election does not coincide with the local government elections of May 6.

The other six Norfolk seats will hold next day counts.

Political pundit and former North Norfolk parliamentary candidate Iain Dale said the position could be challenged if MPs bring a one line bill forcing the hand of local authorities.

“The longer a count takes, the more chance there is someone could interfere with the result,” he added.

“It has for so long been a television occasion which engages people in the political process and that could change.”

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said the situation had arisen because the government had been “weak and pathetic”.

Mr Bacon said the changes were coming about because of “penny pinching decisions of local authority chief executives” who were trying to save money on their budgets.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said he was fully behind night time counts: “This is a democracy and I instinctively think efforts should be made to count on the night and it seems extraordinary we could be drifting back into a slower process than previously.”

The national picture is not yet fully clear, with the Electoral Commission revealing that of the 650 constituencies, 330 aimed to begin counting on the night and 52 the morning after. Others remain undecided.

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