How could a summer election influence voter turnout?

Selby polling station
This will be the first summer election since 2017. Credit: PA

Less than a month after local election ballots closed, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today announced that a general election will be taking place on July 4.

July's ballot will be the first summer general election since Theresa May's Tory party went against Jeremy Corbyn's Labour in June 2017.

In the last 100 years, there have been six elections held in either June or July, with the Conservatives winning four of those.

The last time the UK held a general election July was in 1945. Clement Attlee’s, Labour party gained a landslide majority of 146 seats.

With summer being the traditional holiday and events season the PM's decision to call the election in July has received some criticism, particularly around voter turnout.

What will clash with the General Election over summer?

In the world of sport, Scotland and England are two of the 23 teams who will be competing in the UEFA Euro 2024 tournament over in Germany during the election period.

Alongside this UK's cyclists will be battling it out in the Tour de France, and over in South west London, thousands will be in attendance at the fourth round of the oldest tennis championship in the world, Wimbledon, between 1-14 July.

Will the weather stop people from voting?

A December election day like the one in 2019 had relatively little daylight, this potentially impacted the turnout, according to Parliamentary research.

It's a commonly presented argument – although, according to Statistica, the 2019 Boris Johnson election turnout (67.3%) only dropped by 1.5% compared with Summer 2017 – which could be down to more than one factors.

A 2023 study that looked at 16 different countries suggests weather conditions are far more likely to affect swing voters, or marginal voters, compared to core voters with robust voting habits.

It says this applies more to young voters, with the exception of first-time voters who may be more enthusiastic to hit the polls. Overall, the study suggests sunshine increases turnout.

But evidence on this phenomenon is mixed, with research from 2019 by the University of Reading suggesting that turnout actually increases slightly on cold and rainy days.

It claims vote share for Conservatives and other right-wing candidates "tends to increase by around 0.5% every degree warmer it is".

Crucially for Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer, however, the research says "there is little evidence that individual parties will benefit significantly due to the weather".

Daylight in early July is expected to last 16 hours, with the polls will be open for 15 hours from 7am to 10pm.

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Not near your polling station on July 4?

With UK schools out for summer between June 28 and September 9, another concern is how you can vote if you're off on holiday.

If you have registered to vote, which you would need to do by June 18.

You are then eligible to apply for a postal vote or a vote by proxy, which means you nominate someone else to vote on your behalf.

If you are voting via a postal vote you would need to do so by Wednesday June 19.

It's also worth noting that voting has changed, all voters now require photographic ID to cast a vote if you don't have photo ID you can apply for a voter authority certificate ahead of election day.

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