Published: 10:18, 16 September 2009
| Updated: 10:19, 16 September 2009
By political editor Paul Francis
Moves by local councils to switch the counting of votes at the general election have been described as anti-democratic by polling expert Sir Robert Worcester.
Sir Robert, who lives in Kent and founded MORI, the leading market research and polling company, was responding to concerns that many councils are expected to abandon the tradition of counting votes through the night and move to counts on Friday.
Two Kent councils – Canterbury and Swale - have already confirmed they want a switch while others are undecided. Some such as Medway and Tonbridge and Malling and Thanet have signalled they intend to carry on with night-time counts.
Sir Robert said he disapproved of the idea: “I think it will lead to further voter apathy and disenchantment. Voters will see this as local authorities and their masters acting in their own interests rather than the interests of the voting public, who will be anxious to see who is going to lead them. It is anti-democratic and I am a democratt.
“In Kent, people will want to know not just who is going to lead the country but who their MP is."
As one of the country’s foremost political analysts, Sir Robert is a veteran of through-the-night TV coverage of general election results offering comment and analysis on MORI’s exit polls and results.
He said councils were concerned about their budgets and the costs of paying staff and did not accept claims that there was an issue over validating postal votes. Some returning officers say that process is much more time-consuming than it used to be.
The possibility of daytime counting of results has sparked a Facebook campaign “Save General Election Night.”