General Election 2019: What happens behind the scenes on Election Day to make your vote count?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:10 12 December 2019
When the polls close at 10pm tonight, the machinery of collating and counting your votes springs into action, but the behind-the-scenes work in facilitating the voting process has been in place for several days.
To administer the constituencies of Hitchin and Harpenden and St Albans, the district council employs 450 staff, with many of them carrying out more than one of the 600 jobs involved on Election Day.
These jobs include manning and supervising the polling stations; securing the ballot boxes and delivering them to the counting centre at Batchwood Sports Centre; preparing the counting centre; counting the votes and supervising the count; and providing security and other services such as IT support at the counting centre.
BBC One's election night show are sending a team of five to beam live pictures back from the scene - including a cameraman, engineer, producer and reporter Sophie Van Brugen.
At Batchwood Sports Centre the indoor tennis courts form the counting area.
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A special flooring has to be laid down to protect the surface; tables and chairs moved in; extra electric cabling for the BBC has been installed; extra electric sockets provided for the almost 20 media representatives that have now been accredited.
Returning officer Mike Lovelady is on duty from around 6am in the morning, touring polling stations to check on how things are doing and dealing with any complaints or problems.
The St Albans result is due to be declared by the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Sarah Beazley who is expected to be dressed in her official robes including a cocked hat.
She is - by some ancient constitutional quirk - the returning officer for Hertfordshire.
Although she has no actual hands-on role, apart from registering all the Herts results with Westminster, she has the right to declare results and has chosen to read out the St Albans one, so Mike will just declare Hitchin and Harpenden.
Mike said: "It is impossible to be certain about when we will be in a position to declare the results of the two constituencies, but we expect this to be around 3.30am.
"The count is not open to the public, but the candidates along with their agents and other representatives will be there to monitor the process and members of the media will also be present."