Millions of people have begun casting their votes in the
United Kingdom general election.
Polls opened at 07:00 BST at around 50,000 polling stations
across the UK, which will remain open until 22:00.
A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected, with about
50 million people registered to vote.
As well as the general election, there are more than 9,000
council seats being contested across 279 English local
Mayors will also be elected in Bedford, Copeland, Leicester,
Mansfield, Middlesbrough and Torbay.
In Bedfordshire, a referendum on a council tax increase is
taking place .
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Greens
leader Natalie Bennett, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and
Conservative leader David Cameron have already cast their
The local votes taking place mean that nearly every voter in
England – excluding London where there are no local
elections – will be given at least two ballot papers when they
enter polling stations.
Some votes had been cast before Thursday through postal
voting, which accounted for 15% of the total electorate at
the 2010 general election, when the overall turnout was
For the first time, people have been able to register to vote
Most polling stations are in schools, community centres and
parish halls, but pubs, a launderette and a school bus will
also be used.
A handful of seats are expected to be declared by midnight,
with the final results expected on Friday afternoon.
Polls close at 22:00 BST, but officials say anyone in a
polling station queue at this time should be able to cast their
The BBC’s main election programme, fronted by David
Dimbleby, starts at 21:55 BST, with live coverage from 220
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will have their own
overnight programmes but will join Huw Edwards from
07:00 BST on 8 May.
On the radio, a joint overnight broadcast by BBC Radio 4 and
5 live will be hosted by Jim Naughtie and Carolyn Quinn.
Full coverage of the results as they come in will be on the
BBC politics online live page and front page scorecard, with
all the big breaking stories from around the country and
analysis by correspondents.