12 December 2019 20:32
Voters have reported long queues outside polling stations, with some members of the public walking away without casting their ballots. As voting got underway for one of the most important elections in a generation, waits of more than half an hour were reported at schools, community centres and churches across England, with queueing appearing widespread in places such as London, Manchester and Cambridge. Images of voters forming long lines in the cold weather prompted speculation about whether there had been a spike in turnout compared to the 2017 general election. However official figures on how many people voted will not be available until after the polls close at 10pm on Thursday night. Chris Schofield said more than 70 voters were waiting in Bermondsey, saying some of gave up and left during his 20-minute wait, "presumably to go to work".
"It's about 20 times busier than it was in 2017, and for the locals and Euro elections," the 27-year-old consultant said. Asked why he thought there were so many queuing, Mr Schofield said: "I think it's the election of a lifetime for many of us." Alixe Bovey reported queueing for 35 minutes in Streatham, in south London, early on Thursday morning. "In 20 years of voting in Streatham Hill, always at about this time of day, I have never encountered a queue of more than six or seven people," she tweeted. Waits were also reported in Cambridge, where one voter, John Walsh, tweeted it was the "first time ever" that he had to queue to vote. Early-morning voters in Bermondsey, south-east London, were faced with deep flooding after a water main burst near the polling station.
The Electoral Commission advises polling stations "can get very busy, particularly towards the end of the day", but voters in a queue before 10pm will be entitled to cast their ballot. Voters are heading to the polls again today [Thursday] as the first winter general election in almost a century gets under way. Some in Shetland will be having their say in an election for the fourth time this year, following the European elections as well as Scottish parliament and Shetland Islands Council by-elections. Today's vote follows weeks of campaigning in what was dubbed by many politicians as the most significant election since the Second World War. Several hustings events were held in Shetland but some were poorly attended by the candidates with some parties resorting to using other representatives to put across their message. Polling stations are open across the isles with the poll closing at 10pm.
Once ballot boxes have been collected they will be transferred to a plane at Sumburgh Airport and flown to Kirkwall where the Orkney and Shetland constituency count will take place overnight. Six candidates are seeking election for the Northern Isles MP – independent David Barnard, Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, Coilla Drake for the Labour Party, The Conservative Party's Jenny Fairbairn, Robert Leslie standing for the SNP and Robert Smith representing the Brexit Party. Shetland Times reporter Charley-Kai John is travelling to Kirkwall today to attend the count. Philip, 61, and Julie Jones, 60, outside the polling station in Nenthead on the Cumbria and Northumberland border, in the first general election to be held in December since 1923 OWEN HUMPHREYS/PA Dogs at polling stations were out in force as voters took their canine friends to join in the democratic process. The #dogsatpollingstations hashtag has been an increasingly prominent feature of elections in recent years as people pepper social media with pups to add a touch of light relief on polling day. This year, members of the electorate honoured the December election by putting a festive spin on the tradition. Pete Way put a string of Christmas lights on his dog, Buster, when he went to cast his vote in Wantage, Oxfordshire. And Esyllt Sears' dog, Twm, sported a Christmas tree hat as he turned up to a polling station in the Vale of Glamorgan. Ms Sears told the PA news agency: "Twm's been accompanying me to polling stations before #DogsAtPollingStations was even a thing. "He hates dressing up, and the rain, and waiting for me to vote, and I think his face in this photo reflects how many of us feel this morning... Singer Nerina Pallot was accompanied by her dog, Maggie - complete with Christmas sweater - as she cast her vote. One of the more prominent voters - Prime Minister Boris Johnson - joined in with the trend, taking pet dog Dilyn with him when he cast his vote at Methodist Central Hall in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency. And London Mayor Sadiq Khan had his dog, Luna, in tow as he turned up to vote. In a video posted to Twitter he said: "My name is Sadiq Khan, I'm the Mayor of London. I'm here with Luna, we're voting - make sure you do." There was a strong canine turnout in Dulwich Village in south-east London, where a picture posted to Twitter by Kate Turner showed eight dogs waiting outside one polling station. Liberal Democrat candidate Ed Davey tweeted: "Sadly no #dogsatpollingstations from me, but my family wanted Carrot the Guinea Pig to be involved... People in Northern Ireland are voting in the UK's third general election in five years. Polling stations opened at 07:00 GMT on Thursday and will close at 22:00, with the results expected to be finalised on Friday morning. A total of 1,293,971 people are eligible to vote at 1,300 polling stations across Northern Ireland. The Electoral Office said there has been a rise in the number of eligible voters in each of Northern Ireland's constituencies. According to the BBC's weather forecast, it will be rainy in parts of Northern Ireland tonight with light rain expected with gentle breezes but, at four or five degrees Celsius, it will hopefully be frost free. "Hopefully the weather will stay not too bad," said chief electoral officer Virginia McVea. "A lot of this is about getting the ballot boxes transported to the various count centres round Northern Ireland." The first results in the 2017 general election were known at about 01:00. It is just over a century since there has been a general election this close to Christmas, but it doesn't appear to have effected the number of people wanting to vote. Turnout is said to be busy in many areas, while in north Belfast a banner aimed at one of the candidates was removed from railings outside a polling station. There are 102 candidates fighting in 18 constituencies and just over 50,000 more people are entitled to vote this time than in the last Westminster election, two and a half years ago. The polls close at 22.00 GMT on Thursday and the first result is expected sometime after 01.00 GMT on Friday. Elections in the UK traditionally take place every four or five years. But, in October, MPs voted for the second snap poll in as many years. It is the first winter election since 1974 and the first to take place in December since 1923. Across Northern Ireland many politicians have already cast their votes. Image copyright Pacemaker Image caption DUP leader Arlene Foster voted in Fermanagh and South Tyrone Image caption SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and family voting in Derry Image caption Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill heading in to cast her vote in Mid Ulster Image copyright Pacemaker Image caption UUP leader Steve Aiken and his wife, Beth, voted in Ballyclare Image copyright Pacemaker Image caption Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and her husband Michael cast their votes Many people have already put a cross next to the name of their favoured candidate by voting by post but it is not yet known how many have used this service before voting closes. If you applied for a postal vote but have yet to return it to the Electoral Office, you must do so by 22:00. Alternatively, it can be handed in at your local polling station by the close of polling. Can I vote in the election? Voters have to be aged at least 18 and on the electoral register to vote in Northern Ireland. The deadline to register for the election has passed so anyone who has not already registered cannot take part. Image copyright PA Image caption Voters will decide who takes Northern Ireland's three seats in the European Parliament Do I need to bring ID to the polling station? Voters in Northern Ireland must bring photo ID to the polling station. The polling card received through the post is for information purposes only and is not acceptable ID for voting purposes. The following ID documents are accepted: A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part; provisional accepted) A Translink Senior SmartPass A Translink 60+ SmartPass A Translink War Disabled SmartPass A Translink Blind Person's SmartPass How can I follow the results?