ballot counting
Sunderland are once again hoping to be the first to declare their election results in BritainGetty

As the polls close at 10pm for this year's general election, all eyes will be on one Wearside city as it hopes to once again be the first to declare a result.

In every election since 1992, Sunderland has been the first to declare their winner, sometimes taking less than one hour to do so.

Council chiefs and polling authorities are now hoping Sunderland can make it six elections in a row.

In the 2010 election, Sunderland declared the first three results from three constituencies within 90 minutes of the polls closing.

The first declaration came at 10.52pm Houghton and Sunderland South, Washington & Sunderland West being declared at 11.26pm and finally Sunderland Central at 11.41pm.

Dr Dave Smith, Sunderland Returning Officer, told IB Times UK: "All election counts have their observers. For us, it's well-known that Sunderland has been declaring first since 1992 and while there might be a sense of anticipation from others, the accuracy and the integrity of the election remain our top priorities.

"What we're aiming to do is run an efficient election and declare accurate results as quickly as we can. The prime aim is running an accurate and efficient election count for voters and candidates. If we happen to be first that's bonus."

This year, 200 counters across three constituencies will be hoping to continue Sunderland's run of declaring first, with 100 local sixth formers helping to run in the ballot boxes from 121 stations once they have arrived outside the Sunderland Tennis Centre.

Smith accredits Sunderland's fast declaration speed to "tired and tested procedures" which they have honed over the years, as well as an experienced counting staff, some of who have done the job for 25 years.

"The City Council has also tested having bar codes on each ballot box and scanning it as it arrived at the count so we could time how long it took each box to arrive and how we could improve on this next time," Smith said.

Sunderland also used lighter paper to make counting more efficient and puts counters in teams of three and paired off with people they know and whose skills they are used to.

"This aids the team effort and saves valuable seconds," Smith added.

As with 2010, camera crews are expected to flock to Sunderland to film the dash at the counting station, an experience Smith says adds to the enjoyment of the election night.

He said: "The presence of television and the coverage of the count adds to that buzz. In 1992 there was one television crew present for the first time. It has grown in size and numbers ever since to almost 100 media representatives in 2010.

"It's a massive team effort delivered with a lot of pride – in the job, in the accuracy of the result ... and for the City. The vast majority of the team live and work in Sunderland and they will be striving to be first again for the city."