News flash: there’s a general election in the UK today, and whether you’re able to vote in it or not, you might want to follow the results as they come in.
After all, it’s arguably the most important election in a generation, delivering a government that will define British politics for the next five years – and, thanks to Brexit, perhaps long beyond that.
The internet, social media and the 24-hour news cycle may have been weaponised by certain parties during this election cycle, making this quite possibly the most dishonest and disheartening election campaign in living memory. But! But! They also make it easier than ever to keep up to date with what’s happening tonight. Pats on the back all round, lads.
Here’s where to go if you want to follow along.
On TV and radio
Like to do things the old-fashioned way? BBC One, the BBC News Channel, BBC iPlayer, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News… all of these outlets will be offering minute-by-minute coverage of the results as they roll in, along with analysis from experts – “sick of them” though many of us may be.
Some kind of giant map, physical or computer-generated, could well be involved. Just a gut feeling we have.
Anyway: BBC One, ITV and Channel 4’s coverage runs from 9.55pm to 6am; Sky’s show kicks off a little earlier at 9pm.
BBC Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live will also be broadcasting special election programming. Our advice? Tune in from about 9.55pm to avoid most of the waffle. Actual results won’t be coming in until hours later – but exit polls can be announced after the polls close (10pm), and that should give some clear indication of how things have gone.
By 11pm, we may have the first actual results announced. By 1am, results should be coming at a pretty rapid rate, and we’ll start to be able to build a picture of whether we’re heading for the widely predicted Conservative majority or something else.
You can probably sort this out on your own with the help of your preferred search engine, because basically every major news outlet in the UK will be covering the election live. Which you choose will likely depend on your political bent, but there's no shortage of options.
However, the BBC News website is promising a first for this election: it will publish a separate story on each of the 650 constituencies as its result is announced. That’s a lot, but the BBC claims they will be “written automatically” – do we detect AI being brought in to help out those overworked journos? We’ll all be out of a job soon enough.
On social media
Twitter: It’s all about hashtags here, and if you want to focus your feed on election-related stuff we’d suggest your best bets are the following: #GeneralElection2019; #GE2019; #ElectionDay. Expect to be faced with an absolute avalanche of tweets after you key one of these in, though.
Instagram: Probably not the ideal place for election day news, if we’re being honest – Instagram is full of election-related photos and memes, but it’s mostly urging people to vote rather than reporting on what’s happening. But if photos of polling station signs is your thing, you’ll find more than a few of those here. If you're posting on Instagram stories there's a 'Vote' emoji which you can attach to your post and that will be added into a thread of your other followers' posts and will remain at the top of your story feed for the day.
Facebook: Facebook’s role in this election is something that will likely be examined in an official independent inquiry at some point in the future (depending on who wins, perhaps). Due to its, shall we say, libertarian approach to political advertising, it’s been the most obvious source of dubious claims and outright misinformation during the campaign. My advice? If it’s real news you’re looking for, stay well away from Facebook tonight. And possibly forever.
Taking the edge off
Elections are stressful. You might be ending the day on a massive high or a crushing low, in need of some way to tune out the noise.
Here at Stuff we’d never endorse heading straight down your local boozer and drinking yourself into sweet, sweet unconsciousness. A more wholesome and timely suggestion: check out perennial election favourite #dogsatpollingstations hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for some cute photographic relief.
Alternatively, watch something funny on telly (one of our 27 best comedy TV shows on Netflix or 19 best comedy shows and movies on Amazon Prime Video, perhaps?). Or you could fire up your PC, Switch, PS4 or Xbox One, download a new game and transport yourself to another (slightly more or slightly less hellish, depending on your preference) world for a few hours.