Leading article: Up for the count

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The coming election is already shaping up to be the most exciting since 1997, if not 1992. The first-ever televised debates should spark interest even in an electorate feeling jaded and cynical after the MPs expenses' scandal. So why were many local authorities planning to postpone the traditional overnight counts until the following day, a move that would remove the drama of election night at a stroke?

Officials cite staff costs, the difficulties of assembling the ballot-boxes and the complexities of having to count more postal votes. But these are minor considerations compared with the loss of a collective experience that made "Were you up for Portillo?" into a national catchphrase. So we congratulate the MPs – of all parties – who have objected to the quiet attempt to bury overnight counts and thank the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, for putting his weight behind them. Election night must not be allowed to decline into the day after the night before.

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