By Charlie Duffield
The UK’s main political parties are bracing themselves for a general election on 12 December - the first ‘Christmas election’ to take place since 1923.
According to the law, Parliament must dissolve 25 working days before a general election, and MPs lose their status and need to campaign for re-election if they wish to stand again.
UK parliament was officially dissolved on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the five-week election campaign period.
It’s expected that party manifestos will launch the week of November 18.
The election was triggered in an attempt to solve Brexit, but voters will also be interested in what the main political parties are promising regarding education, the environment, taxes, transport, health, social care and more.
The deadline to register to vote is November 26 and opinion polls are currently giving the Conservatives a lead over Labour.
With just over a month of campaigning to go, here are further details on how the election result is delivered.
Read more: Why are we having an early general election?
When is the exit poll result revealed and how accurate is it?
National exit polls have been used to predict the result of general elections for 40 years.
An exit poll is a survey in which voters are asked how they voted when leaving the polling station, and the results are scrutinised and used to forecast the overall result of the election.
However, exit polls only engage with a sample of voters at a small number of the 39,000 or so polling stations in the UK.
Pollsters approach one voter out of the ‘given number’ (i.e one of every six/eight/ten) according to the estimated national turnout previously agreed between broadcasters and polling companies.
Exit polls are therefore not a foolproof guarantee of the actual election result, but they tend to offer a good indication.
In 2017, the pollsters accurately predicted the election would deliver a hung parliament, decreasing Theresa May’s majority.
Exit polls are published when voting ends at 10pm.
What time do we find out the results?
On December 12 polling stations open at 7am and close at 10pm. Postal votes need to arrive at the Electoral Office by 10pm on December 12.
There are 650 constituencies and votes are counted in two stages, normally ending around 2am.
For almost a quarter of a century and six general elections, Sunderland was the first constituency to deliver its results.
However, during the 2017 general election it was beaten by Newcastle Upon Tyne, who revealed their result at 11pm.
Despite this blip, Sunderland holds the record for the fastest ever declaration in 2015, when results were announced less than an hour after polls closed at 10:48pm.
It’s clear that Sunderland has some of the best ballot counters in the country, with more than 1,200 council staff and volunteers normally involved.
Interestingly, Labour strongholds usually declare their results earlier in the evening than Conservative areas.
This is because urban areas tend to vote Labour, whereas rural areas typically veer towards the Conservatives. Ultimately, it’s a lot easier to count votes from a populous city, as opposed to gathering them from a sparse countryside region.
It can take up to 24 hours for the official results from all 650 constituencies to be declared, but the overall winner is typically announced in the early hours of the morning of 13 December around 3am.
A party has to secure 326 seats to win a Commons majority, and if neither party achieve this, the country will have a hung parliament.