Election 2010: The nation decides

By Ian Dunt

Britain goes to the polls today in what is certain to be a historic moment in political history.

By the time the result is finalised sometime in the early hours of tomorrow, the country is almost certain to have a new government.

But if Labour somehow manages to cling on, it will still represent a historic fourth terms for the party, and one of the most impressive comebacks in British political history.

How to vote: Making the choice

All three party leaders made their trip to the ballot box today, accompanied by their wives.

Meanwhile, an Ipsos-Mori poll for the Evening Standard today put Mr Cameron 44 seats short of an outright majority.

The Conservatives scored 36% support, Labour 29% and the Liberal Democrats 27%.

Due to the first-past-the-post system, that would translate into 282 Conservative MPs, 254 Labour and just 81 Lib Dems, with 33 others.

Comment: Great campaign, shame about the politics

The earliest indication of how things have transpired will come at 22:00 BST, when polling stations close and the exit polls are released. The first results should come in at 23:00, but a firm picture of how things have panned out will not be available until much later.

Most constituencies are conducting their counts overnight, although around 20 will wait until tomorrow morning.

Election 2010: Key Quotes

The front pages: ‘Day of destiny’

Polling stations opened at 07:00 BST. Over 44 million people are registered, with a marked upswing in young people signing up in the wake of the first TV debate.

All three party leaders had voted before 11:30 BST. But early morning headlines were unexpectedly dominated by the lucky escape former Ukip leader Nigel Farage appears to have had following his involvement in a light plane crash. He is receiving treatment in hospital.

Nigel Farage in plane crash

Local elections are also taking place today, with 164 councillors being elected to local authorities across England.

politics.co.uk will be covering events live from just before the polling stations close, bringing you all the results, comment, analysis and drama as it happens.

Election 2010: Key Dates