Whatever the outcome of today's epochal election, it will stand as a high water mark of error, poor practice, confusion, division, uncertainty and sheer nastiness. The post-vote washup will go on for some few weeks I expect, but here's my take for starters
This election has shown up the failings and shortcomings of the EC like no other. The problem is not that they don't have copious guidance (see postal voting below) but that (a) they have no teeth with which to enforce the rules and (b) that's probably just as well because there are widespread suspicions of their partiality. They're an analogue bureaucracy operating in a digital age. Complete rethink needed.
Prior to the Blair corruption only a very small number voted by post - members of HM Armed Forces overseas, expats, the chronically sick and disabled. Now some 22% of all votes cast are postal. Typically votes are cast two to three weeks before the end of the campaign, which itself is legislated at 25 days and far too long. Previously I think it was 17 days. Yesterday there was a social media eruption over a BBC reporter commenting on postal vote outcomes. When only 3% of votes were postal, this mattered less - but now the secrecy of postal vote outcomes prior to the close of polling is critical. Seats are won or lost by one vote - so even if a handful of electors are swayed by a leak of postal vote information, it corrupts the system.
I don't do Facebook so can only comment from the perspective of other platforms and message boards. In many cases it has become toxic. The left in particular use every method of bullying, intimidation, Twitter pile-ons, fake accounts and disruption. Yesterday there was a hack on ConservativeHome's message board. Social media activity is unregulated except for spend by registered parties and supporters - but this is as full of holes as a Swiss cheese
Again from the Momentum left, the sheer level of street thuggery and intimidation during this election has been unprecedented. Guido identified one organised assault on a ministerial visit (yes, assault - read the legal definition of the offence. It doesn't mean punching the minister in the face). This behaviour has been widespread, and largely confined to the left.
Broadcast media bias
Again, the broadcast media have shown their bias like never before. It has been naked. Politicians are also wising up to the reality that the big broadcasters have passed their zenith, and their bluster, bullying and shoulder-shoving is to disguise the increasing role the internet and alternative media are playing.
Corruption amongst local electoral officials
This has never, to my knowledge, been an issue before. This time around, due I guess to a deeply Remainiac local government sector, we have seen a rise in fake and corrupt voter registration, and yesterday the exposure of fake and corrupt voting credentials. The leak of postal ballot information is a disgrace. It really saddens me to say we can no longer trust unquestionably the integrity of local electoral officials.
Well, we'll know tomorrow how well the polls have performed. Again, we must look at the role of pollsters, and whether we're happy with what they do and how they perform.
I'll be back on line here in the early hours - about 4am here, 3am there. Fingers crossed.