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Political, Policy Debates Silenced For Poll Day As UK Votes In Historic Election

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Political, Policy Debates Silenced For Poll Day As UK Votes In Historic Election

“Broadcasters may not publish the results of any opinion poll on polling day itself.”

London:

The UK is voting in a landmark general election on Thursday, with an estimated 46 million registered voters set to make their ballot count at 40,000 polling stations across the country where any discussion or analysis of political issues remains silenced on the polling day.

On polling day, the UK’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) media watchdog rules mean all political and policy debates should be wrapped up before 7 am local time when the polling booths open. From then on, any discussion or analysis of political issues is silenced until 10 pm local time, when the customary election night exit poll results are beamed around the world.

“Discussion and analysis of election and referendum issues must finish when the poll opens,” reads the Ofcom guidelines under Section 6 of its code.

“Broadcasters may not publish the results of any opinion poll on polling day itself until the election or referendum poll closes,” it adds.

The rules are intended to prevent any influence over how people choose to vote on election day, though many would have already made their choice through a postal ballot.

The coverage rules for polling day have meant that images of dogs waiting for their owners outside polling stations become the highlight of election day coverage, symbolic of the long wait ahead before the first results start pouring in close to midnight local time.

Thursdays are the designated polling day for all British elections, a tradition that dates back to the 19th century because Fridays being payday for workers historically meant a weekend election would suppress turnout as they would be more inclined to choose the pub over a polling booth.

Thursday, therefore, is seen as the calm before the proverbial storm during a UK general election, followed by frenetic activity as the final outcome after all the votes have been counted expected by around 10 am (local time) on Friday.

The choreography for the day after polling day is very finely tuned, with the losing party leader making his way to Buckingham Palace to officially concede defeat. This is followed soon after by the winner meeting the British monarch, who formally asks them to form a new government.

In the case of a hung Parliament, this smooth schedule takes a hit while some hectic horse-trading takes place behind the scenes. However, if the opinion polls are even close to predicting the final outcome this time, the winning party is expected to be handed a clear majority.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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