Brexit Vote: What to Watch as the U.K. Goes to the Polls
Voting closes at 10 p.m. U.K. time, with the national result expected early Friday morning
By MAX COLCHESTER
The result of the U.K.’s vote on whether to remain in or leave the European Union is unlikely to be announced until early Friday morning local time. Opinion polls suggest the race is too close to call. With little in the way of precedent for a vote like this in the U.K., here are some clues to watch foras votes are counted.
Voting booths close at 10 p.m. U.K. time, or 5 p.m. in New York, with no public exit polls expected. However, at least two polling companies are planning to publish surveys Thursday: YouGov PLC is expected to publish an opinion poll shortly after polls close that was conducted during the day. That will follow an Ipsos Mori survey published earlier in the day based on surveys over the previous 48 hours.
As soon as polling booths close, electoral officials will begin tallying ballots in 382 local counting offices. Each counting office will announce its own result over the next hours.
From around 11 p.m. local time, the counting offices will begin to release their own estimates of turnout, or the percentage of registered voters that cast a ballot. Turnout figures will be released as much as several hours before the results for each area. Political analysts and investors will be watching these figures as many expect a very high turnout could benefit those campaigning to remain in the EU, while a very low turnout could favor those who want to leave. About half the counting centers will have announced local turnout by 1.30 am, giving a good indication of what to expect, according to Pantheon Macroeconomics.To calculate how many votes are needed to win, halve the total turnout and add one.
At around 12.30 a.m., the first results are expected to start trickling out. The first area likely to declare results is Sunderland, a city in northern England. According to think-tank Open Europe, a convincing win in Sunderland could indicate the pro-leave camp is on course to win nationally, though only a narrow win could suggest they might struggle to break through in less favorable areas. Other early-reporting districts that experts expect to lean toward leaving are Swindon and Sandwell.
Meanwhile, the London district of Wandsworth, expected to report around 12.30 am, will give an early indication of how voters in a “Remain” heartland fared—as will districts such as Stirling and South Lanarkshire in Scotland, expected at around 1.30 am and 2 a.m. respectively.
A flurry of resultsis expected from around 2 a.m., with about three quarters of results expected by about 4.30 a.m. Pollsters may be able to project results from around this time. However, if it is a very close race, they may not be able to call it.
The U.K.’s independent election watchdog, the Electoral Commission, will formally announce the result only when the regional counting is complete. The side with the most votes wins. The national result is to be formally declared between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Write to Max Colchester at firstname.lastname@example.org