General Election 2017: Four million Scots head to the polls

Monks from Pluscarden Abbey leave the polling station at Mosstowie School near Elgin, Moray, in June 2001. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
Monks from Pluscarden Abbey leave the polling station at Mosstowie School near Elgin, Moray, in June 2001. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
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North Unst community hall is a modest building that holds an important distinction. Standing in the tiny hamlet of Haroldswick, with commanding views of the North Sea and the barren landscape of Shetland, it is the most northerly polling station in the United Kingdom.

When the polls open on Thursday at 7am, the hall will welcome the 309 voters are who registered to cast their ballot here. Given the variety of jobs many locals work - from crofting to fishing - it is likely many will already have sent a postal vote.

There are 4,710 polling stations in Scotland open for the 2017 General Election. Picture: TSPL

There are 4,710 polling stations in Scotland open for the 2017 General Election. Picture: TSPL

While business may be slower in North Unst than most urban polling places, it will be positively brisk compared to Uyeasound public hall further south on Unst - where a total of 97 voters are registered.

But despite their remoteness, these rural outposts of democracy abide by the same electoral rules as anywhere else in the country.

There will be 4,710 polling stations in Scotland open for the general election, the second UK-wide poll in two years, with nearly 10,000 staff on duty.

There are 3,988,420 people in Scotland registered to vote, according to the Electoral Commission.

When the polls close at 10pm, some 3,000 counting staff will work through the night to process the results north of the border.

By 5am on Friday, we should have a clear idea of which party will emerge with the most seats and who is heading for Downing Street.

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UK-wide, there are 41,000 polling stations across the UK for a total electorate of 46.9 million, up from 45.8 million in December 2016. Of the 1.1 million voters to have joined the electorate since 2016, almost a third (31%) are in constituencies in London and south-east England.

In 31 seats the size of the electorate has gone down, with the largest drop in Banbury (down 6%).

Of the top 50 seats with the biggest increase in electorate, 31 were won by Labour at the last election and 13 by the Conservatives.

General elections, in their current format, date to the Parliament Act 1911 which introduced the requirement that all constituencies be contested on the same day.

The last election not to be held on a Thursday was the poll on Tuesday, October 27, 1931, which delivered a landslide majority for Stanley Baldwin’s National Government.

But the first past the post system (FPTP) used at general elections remains a point of controversy.

One in three believe their vote won’t count on Thursday – with nearly half of those saying it’s because the same person gets in every time, according to BMG Research polling commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society.

A further fifth say it’s because they don’t feel voting changes anything, while one in seven view the election result as a foregone conclusion.

It follows research showing one in five UK electors will be ‘holding their nose’ and voting tactically on Thursday – double the proportion in 2015.

READ MORE: Poll: Third of Scots more likely to back independence if May PM