Vote for Saturday

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The Independent Online

Since 1935, all national elections in Britain have been held on a Thursday. This week the local elections in England and the London mayoral and assembly polls will follow suit. Some polls will be in schools - which may be closed to accommodate the piffling turnout that local elections tend to attract.

Since 1935, all national elections in Britain have been held on a Thursday. This week the local elections in England and the London mayoral and assembly polls will follow suit. Some polls will be in schools - which may be closed to accommodate the piffling turnout that local elections tend to attract.

All of which is doubtless very convenient for some. The BBC's election unit, for example, must find it handy to hold its election specials on Thursday night: it allows a long weekend to recuperate from the palpitations it suffers as No Overall Control sweeps to power in Trafford. But for the rest of us, Thursday voting is an obsolete chore. Some wards are experimenting with early voting, but simply having the polling stations open for several days is not the answer - and anyway, it might kill the excitement for political junkies as opinion polls carried out during voting might make electors feel they know the result before the booths close. A new Representation of the People Act has opened the possibility of Saturday polling. Alone in England, Watford is holding its election at the weekend. If deemed successful, the experiment could be widened to cover the country. The Prime Minister can call elections on any day he fancies. He should call the first general election of the millennium on a Saturday.

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