BBC to project real-time election results on Big Ben's tower

This is pretty cool: The BBC is going to project the real-time UK election results on the sides of Big Ben's tower, as a skinny bar-chart showing the progress of the three front running parties as individual lines, with the independent parties lumped into a combined bar. BBC to beam general election results on to Big Ben (via O'Reilly Radar)


  1. Blimey, I’ll be having a look at that on my lunch break then. Very cool. Everybody: VOTE!

  2. Why not just tha actual election results?

    Polls have the tendency to swing an election and ARE NOT the results. Thus they are misleading b/c journalists rarely understand statistical methods and even rarer yet report them accurately.

    I assume it is after voting closes? Since the publication of exit polls taken before voting closes is prohibited by the Representation of the People Act, 2000.

    Moreover I am curious if they will ask the basic questions ( ). Or will they just assume that the polls are accurate and engange in poor reporting? has a decent discussion and decent comments.

  3. Very handy for those who live in that area and don’t have access to TV or Internet.

  4. Something about that image makes me think maybe they had this idea for the last election too.

    1. The caption on the original article at BBC says this is a mockup of what it might look like, and not an actual snap from last time around. They probably just superimposed bars on a picture of St Stephen’s tower at New Year.

    2. Something about that image makes me think maybe they had this idea for the last election too.

      Nope, the image is a mockup. They’ve used the last election’s results since (obviously) they don’t know the results for the coming election.

  5. note that this headline correctly calls the tower the “tower”. “big ben” is the bell.

    and now to straighten out every time someone says “ironic” when they only mean “novel coincidence”.

  6. They probably used the results from the last election to avoid having to suggest one of the parties winning, which the others could call a bias. The BBC is legally bound to be unbiased about all political issues. Doesn’t really work but they do try.

  7. NBC and MSNBC did something vaguely similar in 2008 with the US Presidential results, using window-washing rigs and long fabric banners on the side of 30 Rock.

    Granted, projecting results onto the side of Big Ben is cooler and geekier than fabric on a skyscraper, but it’ll be tough to outdo the giant map MS/NBC had on the Rockefeller Plaza ice rink. THAT was awesome.

  8. I have a question Cory- how is this cool? There is an inbuilt biasing when you show “real-time” results. For instance, if there is an influx of heavily conservative votes in the morning from retirees, many younger and liberal students might be intimidated from voting as the lead might look insurmountable. Voting tends to be done anonymously and in a blind so as to not influence the voters and the RATE of voting. This looks to be a tool reminiscent of black voter intimidation in the South of the USA…

    1. I don’t think you understand what’s going to happen. By “real time” they mean it will show the results as they come in from each electorate. Between the time when the polls close and the first results come in, the results of an exit poll will be projected instead. Nothing will be projected until nobody is able to vote.

    2. Unlike the US, we only have one time zone, and the results only begin to come in after the polls close. We can never have the situation in 2000, when the west-coasters didn’t bother voting Democrat because the Republicans had the early lead.

  9. No, no, no! The results will be projected well after the polls close, after the votes are counted and constituency results announced.

    Incidentally, I like the way the article pedantically mentions that it’s St.Stephen’s Tower, which houses the bell called ‘Big Ben’, but then mentions that the exit poll result will appear on Big Ben….

  10. ‘…a tool reminiscent of black voter intimidation’, who’s tool would that be anyway? The impartial BBC? Sorry I cant work out the menace behind all this.
    Its a nice idea, relax…

  11. Straight outta Max Headroom! Now all we need is Reg and Big Time TV to give us the real story…

  12. It would be great if they were project the popular vote rather than seats won – they’d be very different!
    e.g. the Lib Dems need nearly twice as many votes to get the same amount of seats as Labou.

  13. “Its a nice idea, relax…”
    Was that a sign off? Heh.
    A tool for intimidation would be what I spelled out as a potential- show voters that a majority are voting a certain way before the polls close. For instance, you are getting off work and intend to vote but see that the party you would cast for is 30 points behind. Why bother?
    “The Columbus Free Press found that white Republican suburbanites, equipped with a surplus of machines, averaged waits of only 22 minutes, while black urban Democrats averaged 3 hours and 15 minutes. “The allocation of voting machines in Franklin County was clearly biased against voters in precincts with high proportions of African-Americans,” concluded Walter Mebane Jr., a government professor at Cornell University who conducted a statistical analysis of the vote in and around Columbus. Black voters also faced artificial barriers like the “right church, wrong pew” gambit when they showed up at the correct room to vote, but were not steered to the correct table for their precinct.”
    This type of tactic is one of intimidation and use of “denying hope”.
    If this is used only during tabulation then fine. If there are votes that are filed later then it could lend to someone not voting due to ‘why bother’.
    Not so far off is it?
    Sincerely, Poly

  14. Not so far off, except for the fact that it doesn’t apply to this situation at all.

    We don’t do voting machines here. Period. Every vote is handled out by a person (often a little old lady) to the voter, who takes it into a booth, marks the X, folds, and puts it into a box. Only when the day ends and the voting has concluded – after 10pm – are the boxes opened up and the votes counted. This is the traditional Election Night coverage on the BBC including the Swingometer.

    There is no potential for this as a tool of intimidation since it won’t be present until after the polls have closed.

  15. Any ideas for a place to sit and watch this as it happens?

    I can’t think of anywhere I’d like to be in the middle of the night that I can see Big Ben (or St. Stephen’s Tower) from. I was thinking perhaps Primrose Hill, but from a quick Google of the view from the top I think you’d need some binoculars to see anything.

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