LONDON – The Archbishop of York has launched a scathing attack on the lack of preparation at polling stations that is believed to have caused thousands of voters to be turned away.
There were reports overnight of some polling stations closing their doors on queues of voters at 10 p.m. according to the rules, while other polling stations allowed voters to come in past the allocated time. Other polling stations reportedly had to turn people away because they had run out of ballot papers.
Sentamu said it was "scandalous" that so many people were prevented from exercising their right to vote.
"I have in my own way been encouraging people to vote and I am bitterly disappointed that they were not able to do so," he said.
"We all knew that this would be a closely fought election and how important each vote would be and I find it very hard to believe that arrangements were not in place to accommodate increased voter turnout. It is an outrage!”
Britain is facing its first hung Parliament in decades with the Conservatives as the largest party.
The results show there is no overall majority for the Conservatives, despite a huge swing towards the party.
The final result is not expected to be declared until the afternoon, although it may be contested because of the high number of voters being turned away.
The prime minister traditionally has the right to form a hung parliament if no party wins an overall majority.
There are reports that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already begun negotiations with the Liberal Democrats to deny a Tory-led government.
Conservative leader David Cameron told Brown that he should step aside.
In his acceptance speech in his constituency of Witney, Cameron said: “I believe it is already clear that the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern our country.
“What is clear from these results is that our country wants change. That change requires new leadership. Strong, stable, decisive and good government. What will guide me is the national interest.”
Any hopes of a historic win for the Lib Dems were dashed as the surge in support for Nick Clegg in the final few weeks did not translate into votes. One of the party’s highest profile MPs, Lembit Öpik, lost his seat in Montgomeryshire to the Conservatives.
Clegg admitted it had been a “disappointing night.”