UK Election 2015: Millions begin casting their votes

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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

authorities.

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

votes.

Results declared

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

65%.

For the first time, people have been able to register to vote

online.

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.

Coverage

Polls close at 22:00 BST, but officials say anyone in a

polling station queue at this time should be able to cast their

vote.

The BBC’s main election programme, fronted by David

Dimbleby, starts at 21:55 BST, with live coverage from 220

counts.

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.

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