I stayed up until about 4:20am this morning watching the election results come in. It was a bit shit, because when I went to bed the result was still completely uncertain as to whether it'd be a hung party or a Conservative majority. Basically I spent 5 hours watching to not even know the result at the end of it. And even now, with the results in, the final result still is far from clear. It's a hung parliament, but the various coalitions between parties are still completely up in the air, if they even happen at all.
Most of the early headlines revolved not around the election results, because they were still to come in, but the fact that people had been shut out of polling stations at 10pm while still queueing. Personally, I think it's a bit shit that people who genuinely wanted to vote have been denied the right to do so, but at the same time I question how many of those people who missed out on voting only had themselves to blame. Fact is, you had fifteen hours to vote. Pretty much an entire waking day. If you arrive at the polling station at 9pm and have to queue for so long that you don't get in by 10pm, then fair enough. You've given yourself adequate time and still can't vote. But if you only bothered to go ten minutes before the polling station shut, then frankly you've not really got a huge amount of room to complain.
If I buy a train ticket, I've paid money, I'm entitled to a seat on the train, but I get stuck in traffic on my way to the station, or I only get there one minute before the train leaves and end up missing my train stuck behind slow people and queueing to get through the ticket barriers, then I don't really have much right to ring up National Rail and give them an earful on how I missed a train I'd paid for because they didn't wait for me. Polling closes at 10pm, not at a random time in the evening. You have fifteen hours, use them. I'm pretty sure that the number of people who couldn't get to the polling station at some point in the day before 9:45pm is pretty small. I'm a student, I'm fairly familiar with leaving things to the last possible minute, but the fact is that if you really cared about your vote you'd get there with some time to spare.
Probably the most revealing result in the election is that the Lib Dems got nearly a quarter of the votes, but only a tenth of the seats. It's hard not to see why they want a change to the system when it seems to give such a poor representation in the House of Commons of public opinion across the UK. At the time of writing this, the Tories have 35,000 votes per seat, Labour have 33,300 votes and the Lib Dems have a slightly staggering 119,400 votes per seat in comparison. The Tories will complain if Labour and Lib Dem form a "coalition of losers" but the fact is that between them they'd have easily more than 50% of the national votes.
There were two things that really alarmed me about the election. Firstly is the total lack of security over votes. Fact is, I could quite easily have stolen someone else's vote yesterday. You don't need to show ID, or answer any personal questions. Legally, you don't even need to show your face. You hand in a voting card, they assume you are who the card says you are, you vote in that person's name. I could have stolen a shitload of voting cards from the Porters' Lodge and used as many as the memories of the people working in the polling station would have allowed. Sure, individual votes don't count for much, and it'd be pretty hard to properly rig an election this way without people noticing something was up, but I'd like at least some sort of ID system. I've been to collect tickets and things like that and they've asked for ID or the credit card that made the online transaction. I don't see why there isn't a similar thing for the elections.
The other thing is that even though they took no seats, the BNP was still picking up a smattering of votes in each constituency. In total there are seemingly 550,000 people who are either politically brain-dead or racist, and as a result voted for the BNP yesterday. As a percentage it's not huge (though under a public representation system it'd be enough for a few seats), but really, it's pretty hideous that they get any notable number of votes at all. They have more votes than proper parties like the Green Party for crying out loud.
So yeah, things are far from over. Just fingers crossed that the end result isn't going to screw people over for the next four years.