Election counts are shadowy affairs for most of us - we cast our vote, hear the exit poll at 10 and then wake up to hear the result in the morning. So, what exactly goes on in the early hours? How does a count work?
After the polls close polling stations speed their ballot boxes to a central location where multiple constituencies are counted. In Sheffield, for example, all 6 local constituencies are counted at the Institute for Sport. Local council workers are charged with sorting the votes for each of the parties. Each counter makes a pile of Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, UKIP (and so on) votes and one pile of spoilt ballots. Each pile is then counted into bundles of 25 or 50 votes, and the bundles are totted up to give an overall total.
While the counters are doing this party workers watch what is going on to make sure that no votes are accidentally placed in the wrong party's pile, and that each bundle of votes has the correct number in.
Then, just before the final result is calculated the candidates and agents for each party are gathered together and shown the spoilt ballots. This is that weird process we see on TV where a big group are shown pieces of paper one after another. The presiding officer is getting each party to agree that the ballot has been spoilt and therefore shouldn't be counted. This can result in some quite funny discussions about where the apex of a cross is ("it's in the Labour box - it must be a vote for us!") or whether a frowning face counts as vote.
Once this process is complete if the outcome is clear the vote is declared. If the margin of victory is narrow then parties can request a re-count and all the bundles are recounted and potentially rechecked until a result is confirmed.
It's amazing how quickly this process can happen - the first results, as we've seen are announced almost immediately after the polls have closed and, by the morning, thousands of votes will have been sorted, counted and checked round the country.
So, when you wake up this morning you may want to spare a thought for the council workers and party activists who stay up through the night to make sure that the result is quickly and accurately turned around.
More top news
UK weather forecast. Calendar weather: Wet & windy Tuesday leads to a weather warning
A woman from North Yorkshire left almost fully paralysed after being hit by van is going into schools to teach children about road safety.
A project to help people with disabilities get into football has been launched in South Yorkshire