Polls Open in Britain’s Snap Election After a Campaign Marked By Terror Attacks

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Polls opened 0700 BST Thursday for Britain’s second general election in two years, unexpectedly called by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May in April while her party was riding high in the polls.

Electing 650 members of parliament to form the United Kingdom’s lower chamber, British and Commonwealth electors registered to vote in the United Kingdom have until 2200 BST tonight to cast their ballot.

Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election in hopes of increasing the Conservative Party’s slim majority in Parliament, and strengthening her hand in European Union exit talks.

The campaign did not go to plan. May was criticised for lacklustre campaigning and two deadly attacks turned the election into a debate about national security.

May says the Conservatives will build a “stronger, fairer and more prosperous Britain,” while opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he would govern “for the many, not the few.”

The campaign to become Britain’s next governing party has defied the expectations of political commentators, and has been interrupted twice by mass-casualty terror attacks on British soil. Political campaigning was suspended by the main parties after the Manchester Arena bombing, which saw 22 killed and over 100 wounded, and after the London Bridge attack which saw 8 killed and 48 injured.

The attacks came just weeks after the London Bridge attack, meaning Britain has experienced a major terror attack every month since March.

While campaigning was originally expected to focus on Brexit, the attacks have focussed attention on national security, counter-terrorism, and border control.

A late study this week found that as Britons prepared to go to the polls, terror was the top concern for undecided voters, and noting “a greater belief that [terror attacks] are an ongoing challenge for the country, rather than just a terrible one-off event”.

In response to the recent terror attacks, various reports have stated armed police are to be deployed to polling stations to reassure and protect the public.

AP contributed to this report

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