How does the election work?
Britain’s voters head to the polls in their local areas on Thursday to cast ballots for members of Parliament in the second general election to be held since the country voted to leave the European Union.
And while Brexit has dominated the agenda — with the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Boris Johnson putting the issue at the center of its campaign, vowing to “get Brexit done” — other key issues may determine the outcome. The opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has put health care at the center of its pitch, framing itself as the defender of Britain’s revered National Health Service.
Several smaller parties — including the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Brexit Party, and pro-independence parties in Scotland and Wales — are also running and could play a decisive role.
Voters will be choosing who will represent their local district, or constituency, in Parliament: 650 lawmakers in total will be chosen as members of the House of Commons, which decides the country’s laws and policies. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., and the results of exit polls will begin to emerge almost immediately after the end of the vote, with the official results coming in overnight.
There are tight restrictions on reporting.
Once polls are open on Election Day, the British broadcasters that were reporting feverishly in the lead-up to the vote will suddenly have a noticeable lack of coverage.
It’s illegal for anyone in Britain to publish information on how people say they have voted — exit polling, or forecasts based on it — until after polls close at 10 p.m. local time.
The rules for broadcasters go further, however. A code of conduct laid out by Britain’s communications regulator, Ofcom, specifies that all discussion and analysis of election issues on television and radio must cease once polls open, that no opinion polls can be published and that no coverage of opinion polls is allowed while people are voting.
“When people are going to the polls on Election Day, it’s important that everyone can vote on the same information,” the regulator explained.
The Guardian has an item on its live briefing urging readers to comment, but to avoid saying how they voted.
“Please keep posting your comments below, but don’t say how you voted,” the note reads. “The Representation of the People Act outlaws the reporting of how people voted.”
Broadcasters’ websites generally follow suit. “There will be no coverage of any issues directly pertinent to the election campaigns on any BBC outlet,” according to the public broadcaster’s internal election guidelines.
But the broadcaster found itself in hot water almost immediately when Laura Kuenssberg, a political editor, offered a short assessment of the postal vote on Wednesday night. The BBC denied that her comment broke any laws.
Broadcasters have a varied offering for Election Night.
Now, rolling coverage is standard and the offerings from British broadcasters are a far cry from the radio reports in the first half of the 20th century, when “listeners simply tuned in to the radio to hear the election results read by an announcer.”
The BBC will, as always, be there to broadcast and analyze the results as they are announced. But it faces stiff competition for eyeballs from other broadcasters.
“John will bring his own authority, and no little wit to a night of high drama,” said John Ryley, the head of Sky News. The broadcaster will also try to entice younger views by partnering with BuzzFeed and streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.
Channel 4 has brought on board political heavyweights like Amber Rudd, the former home secretary, and Tom Watson, the former deputy Labour leader, as well as comedians like Katherine Ryan. They will also be joined by Rylan Clark-Neal, a former contestant on the talent show “The X Factor” and on the British “Celebrity Big Brother” who will be talking through results with the studio audience. On his role, Mr. Clark-Neal said, “Who would have thought that as an ‘X-Factor’ reject I would be hosting election night?”
Forget politics. Dogs are at polling stations.
#Dogsatpollingstations has become something of an Election Day tradition in Britain, with voters sharing photographs of their pups outside their local polling stations. And with three general elections and the Brexit referendum held since 2015, people have had plenty of chances to participate.
Several high-profile voters got in on the action on Thursday, with Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, accompanied by his dog, Luna, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving with his dog, Dilyn.
In much of Britain, the dogs and their owners had to brave a cold, wet morning at the polls, but few seemed to mind.
Mark Landler, Stephen Castle, Amie Tsang, Megan Specia, Adam Satariano, Benjamin Mueller and Patrick Kingsley contributed reporting.