Brexit on paper: What the Brits are actually voting for

  • Agencies
  • Updated: Jun 22, 2016 15:33 IST
A woman reads a newspaper on the underground in London with a 'vote remain' advert for the BREXIT referendum, Britain June 22, 2016. (Reuters Photo)

A referendum will be held to decide whether Britain should leave or stay in the European Union (EU).

The possible exit, called “Brexit” (Britain+ exit), could have lasting consequences.

Following are details of what the ballot paper looks like, what is the process followed on the day of referendum and who are allowed to vote.

What is the question?

Voters will be given a piece of paper with the question:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

They will be asked to put a cross beside either: “Remain a member of the European Union “Leave the European Union”

Who can vote?

All those who are entitled to vote in a UK parliamentary election can vote in the referendum, including British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens over the age of 18 who are resident in the UK.

UK nationals resident overseas who have appeared on a parliamentary election register in the past 15 years will also have the right to vote, as will Irish citizens who were born in Northern Ireland and registered to vote in Northern Ireland in the last 15 years. In addition, peers and citizens of Gibraltar who were able to vote at a European parliamentary election can vote.

When to vote?

The polling stations open at 7 am on June 23 and close at 10 pm local time.

When will the results come?

Votes will be counted by hand, starting as soon as polls close at 10 pm.

Each of 382 local counting areas will tally the number of ballot papers cast and announce local turnout figures (including spoiled ballots and postal votes) in each of the areas. The Electoral Commission has estimated that most turnout announcements at counting-area level will come between 10:30 pm on June 23 and 01:30 am on June 24. The last turnout figure is expected at around 4 am on June 24.

Each area will count the votes and announce totals for Remain and Leave in each of the 382 areas.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks about the EU referendum outside 10 Downing Street in London, June 21, 2016. (Reuters)

Five things to watch out for

1) Turnout could be the key to the result but only partial figures will be available initially. Turnout at last year’s British parliamentary election was 66 percent. Turnout well below this is likely to favour Leave as those who back Brexit are considered more likely to vote, according to campaigners on both sides.

2) First results: Sunderland, likely to be one of the first results to declare (2330), has a large number of older, lower income voters who polls show are more likely to back Brexit. If Leave are not strongly ahead here it may indicate they will struggle to break through in areas less favourable to Brexit.

3) Geography: Leave is expected to do well in eastern England, so close results in some of the most eurosceptic areas such as Southend-on-Sea (2am) and Castle Point (1:30 am) could give an indication the national vote has swung towards Remain.

4) Swing seats: Nuneaton (1 am) is considered a bellwether seat in parliamentary elections so will be watched to see if Prime Minister David Cameron has managed to get swing voters who last year backed his Conservatives to turn out for Remain.

5) Count chronology: Some research has indicated Remain could be well ahead at first and that from around 3am-4am the Brexit count is less likely to deviate from the end results.

Can the count be challenged?

The electoral commission says this: “The referendum rules do not provide for a national recount to be carried out in any circumstances. Any request for a recount of votes will be at local count level and is for the Counting Officer to determine. We expect local recounts to be granted if a specific issue has been identified with the process in that counting area, rather than simply when the local totals are close.

“The national referendum result is only subject to challenge by way of judicial review.

“An application for judicial review would need to be lodged within six weeks of the certification that is being challenged being made.”

Full Coverage| Britain’s EU Referendum

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