Why the fuss about election night?
Despite enjoying my telly appearance with him on last year's BBC local elections coverage, I can't get as excited about "saving election night" as Iain Dale is (http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/09/save-general-election-night.html).
Anyone who is really active in politics can never watch the election night programmes anyway as they are actually at a count.
Personally the last thing I want to do after 15 hours of polling day campaigning is to immediately spend another 2-6 hours standing up scrutinising equally tired counting staff and arguing with the Returning Officer and other party agents over whether a smiley face is a valid vote or which party's line on the ballot the apex of a wonkily placed cross falls into. I always seem to get stuck at counts that last forever - until dawn and then reconvened the next day in Bristol NW '92, until 4.30am in Aldershot in 2001, until about the same time in Castle Point in 2005, until 8 or 9am in Hackney in the 1998 local elections.
Counting at these times naturally leads to exhausted counters and party scrutineers, and to mistakes being made - votes or bundles of votes placed in the wrong pile or tray for instance. In a close seat it is not impossible for counter tiredness to affect the result.
I've been at a parliamentary count where counter tiredness led to a bundle of 50 votes for the Tories being lost on the floor of the hall, then reappearing and flipping which party won the seat. I've been at a council count where sheer exhaustion and confusion at the end of a 10 hour count meant the agent failed to ask for a recount in a tight ward, and that ward determined control of the borough.
It's better for accuracy of the result and the health of the staff and party volunteers involved to count in the cold light of day on a Friday morning after a good night's sleep.
Seats in Northern Ireland and some in Cornwall and Scotland have always counted on the Friday. 1945 was no less exciting an election result for the count taking place during the day because of the wait for military postal votes. Council counts held on Fridays are altogether calmer and more civilised.
Election counts are not primarily designed as spectator sports or good telly. They are held to accurately record the views of the voters, not as political theatre. Let's hold them in daylight conducted by people not suffering from sleep deprivation.