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1. You don’t have to vote with an “x.”
Although the official guidance is to place an “x” in the square next to the name of the candidate you wish to vote for, you can cast your vote with a tick, a number, heck, in theory even a smiley face.
2. Why are elections held on a Thursday?
One theory suggests that in the past Friday was pay day, so Thursday votes ensured a good turnout as people weren’t too drunk. The last general election not to be held on a Thursday was on Tuesday Oct. 27, 1931. The Electoral Commission has suggested making polling day at the weekend to improve turnout.
3. Four-legged friends
You can take your dog to the polling station as long as Fido doesn’t “disrupt the vote.” The Electoral Commission gives furry friends the thumbs up in an “accompanying” role. If you’re planning to ride to cast your vote, please note horses and ponies do need to be secured outside the station.
4. Tied results
What happens if there is a tied result? It’s pretty unsatisfactory actually. “Where there is a tie between two or more candidates receiving the same number of votes the Acting Returning Officer will decide the result by lot.” So for example, the names of the tied candidates could be written on paper and drawn out of a hat, or a coin could be flipped.
The lowest turnout at a UK general election was at the end of World War I when the polling stations saw just 57.2% of eligible voters cast their ballot. Between 1922 and 1997 turnout was 71% and above, with a high of 83.9% in 1950. In 2001 turnout was 59.4%, in 2005 it was 61.4 % and in 2010 it was 65.1%. It’s estimated that around 7.5 million people are missing from the electoral register.
The UK is divided up into 650 parliamentary constituencies, each one represented by a member of parliament in the House of Commons. 533 are in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland.
7. Inebriated electors
Apparently having a few jars before you head to the polling station is acceptable. The Beeb says polling staff can’t turn away drunk voters. Don’t get absolutely hammered though — if you appear incapable of casting a vote, you will have to answer a series of questions in order to prove you are capable. If you fail, apparently you’ll be told to come back when you’ve sobered up.
Democracy costs serious money. The estimated cost of the 2010 general election was an astonishing £113.2 million ($174 million). This breaks down to £28.6 million ($44 million) for the cost of distributing candidates’ mailings and £84.6 million ($130 million) to carry out the voting process.
9. Can the Queen vote?
Yes, but she doesn’t. The Queen’s official website explains: “Although the law relating to elections does not specifically prohibit the Sovereign from voting in a general election or local election, it is considered unconstitutional for the Sovereign and his or her heir to do so. As Head of State, The Queen must remain politically neutral, since her Government will be formed from whichever party can command a majority in the House of Commons.”
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