Every vote counts: Whatever you do, get out and vote!

Britain heads to the polls tomorrow for the most unpredictable General Election in a generation – with everyone being urged to turn out and vote.

Every vote counts: Whatever you do, get out and vote!

Voters were today being urged to make the most of it as the West Midlands contains some of the most marginal seats in the country.

Polling stations will be open tomorrow from 7am to 10pm. Voters do not need their polling cards to be able to vote, you can simply use your name and address. People were also being urged not to spoil their papers to make a protest. Spoilt papers are counted but discarded without mentioning messages on them.

Convicted prisoners and Lords of the realm cannot vote – but there is nothing to stop the Queen from casting her vote, even though this is highly unlikely.

With seven out of 19 constituencies locally having changed hands in 2010, and many others with slender majorities, every single vote counts. David Cameron was visiting the West Midlands today to make a last-minute plea for votes and was expected in Cannock on his battle bus this morning.

Areas like Dudley North, which Labour held with a majority of 649 votes last time and Walsall North, held by Labour by 990 votes, are key targets not only for the Tories but also for UKIP.

Meanwhile, Labour is throwing everything at winning back Wolverhampton South West, held by Tory Paul Uppal by a majority of 691, and Cannock Chase. In Sandwell, Labour is likely to have a clean sweep with three MPs.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid joins Conservative candidate Paul Uppal at Wolves' £50m training ground

Joel Blackwell, of the Hansard Society, the independent authority on democracy, said: "For a party to secure a majority in the House of Commons it has to get 326 seats. It is all about reaching the magic number. The marginal seats play a huge role. In short, every vote counts."

  • Not to take selfies in the polling station and put them online, they may be breaking the law

  • Be on time. Voters arriving before 10pm and waiting to vote at 10pm will still be able to

  • Check their poll card. Voters can only cast their vote at the polling station stated

  • Take their postal vote to their polling station and hand it in if they haven’t posted it

  • To encourage young people to vote, digital channel E4 will be off tomorrow[/breakout]

Councils will be counting the results through the night but many also face local authority elections, which take place on the same day. Every district and borough council in the Black Country and south Staffordshire has an election. Those votes will not be counted until Friday afternoon but have to be verified before the Parliamentary results are counted in the early hours of Friday.

  • Results are expected 2am-6am and the Express & Star will have reporters at every count, with live updates at expressandstar.com

It's down to you:

Whether David Cameron or Ed Miliband will lead this country is firmly in the hands of voters in the West Midlands.

Britain's future is up to you.

The party leaders have embarked on a 48-hour tour of Britain in a last bid to win over undecided voters.

However all the polls point to another hung Parliament.

The latest YouGov survey showed the Conservatives and Labour tied on 33 per cent, UKIP on 12 per cent, the Liberal Democrats 10 per cent and the Greens five per cent.

This chart shows both Labour and the Tories visited the region 10 times in the lead up to the election, while the Lib Dem's failed to make an appearance

David Cameron warned voters they risked 'five long years' of a minority Labour government reliant on 'bribes' to smaller parties like the SNP if the Conservatives were not handed a clear mandate at the ballot box.

Ed Miliband, meanwhile, has stressed he will do no deals with the nationalists and their leader Nicola Sturgeon in order to become Prime Minister.

And Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has claimed a second general election will be inevitable by Christmas unless the Liberal Democrats form part of a stable coalition government.

The Conservatives and Labour have thrown everything they have at the key marginal seats of the Black Country and Staffordshire as they try to win a majority and avoid another coalition or any deals with other parties.

Their biggest hitters and front benchers have been hitting the streets across Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell, Cannock and Stafford during the campaign.

David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband have all visited more than once as they try to either hold seats they won in 2010 or defend slender majorities.

The shadow chancellor in a visit to the Express & Star

There has also been a surge of support for UKIP which, while it may not be as high as it was after the European elections last year, will still impact the outcome of the vote. Nigel Farage dedicated a whole day in the region with visits to Stafford, Cannock, Dudley and Wolverhampton.

Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne went to Marston's in Wolverhampton while the Chancellor has posed for the cameras cooking a curry at the Bilash restaurant and for selfies with workers at ATP in Cannock Chase.

The Chancellor has been a regular visitor to the West Midlands and has been attempting to explain what he calls his 'long term economic plan' to different regions of the country.

Many of his pledges and promises have been heard before. But he has been hoping that his intention to start the ball rolling within the first 100 days of a Conservative majority government will sway floating voters.

He wants to repeat the jobs success story of the i54 business park in South Staffordshire which created 1,400 posts at Jaguar Land Rover and hundreds of others, with new incentives for companies in Walsall, Dudley, and Wolverhampton in so-called 'enterprise zones'.

This is a bone of contention with the Labour party, who sent some of their front benchers to the JLR plant earlier this year to launch their own economic plan.

They are quick to point out the land was prepared by the former regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, which was scrapped by the coalition government.

The coalition, however, was the one that allowed councils to borrow the money they needed to extend the slip roads from the M54 motorway.

Ed Balls has visited the Express & Star office, as has Mr Farage. Ed Miliband visited supporters at Polly's Tea Room in Brierley Hill at the weekend in order to encourage them to get out and knock every door.

London mayor Boris Johnson flipped pancakes at the Premier Suite in Cannock while former Cannock Chase Councillor, now transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin has been out knocking doors in a bid to boost the Conservative vote.

Boris Johnson attempts pancake flipping in a visit to ThePremier Suite in Cannock

But there has been no sign of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who has been concentrating on defending seats such as Solihull and Birmingham Yardley.

There are seven key marginal seats across the Express & Star's circulation area which changed hands in 2010. The tightest seat will be Dudley North where Labour's Ian Austin faces a close fight with UKIP's Bill Etheridge and the Tories' Les Jones. Just 649 votes decided it last time.

In Wolverhampton South West, Conservative Paul Uppal won with a margin of 691 – he's trying to hold off the man whose job he took last time, Labour's Rob Marris.

Cannock is set to be one of the defining seats again. Both parties have heavily campaigned here with Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, William Hague, and Michael Gove joining the likes of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor in the constituency.

For Labour, Mr Miliband, Mr Balls, Andy Burnham and Chuka Umunna have joined the campaign trail.

Follow my leader: Ed Miliband with Caroline Flint, Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna at the launch of Labour's economic plan launch at the JLR factory on the I54 site in Wolverhampton

George Osborne has also visited Cannock Chase to campaign for the Tories as part of five visits to the Black Country and Staffordshire since the start of the year.

Aidan Burley won Cannock Chase with the biggest swing in the country with 14 per cent for the Tories in 2010.

This time around Amanda Milling is trying to retain the seat against Labour's Janos Toth. The polls show Labour leading, but the Tory vote has been increasing in recent weeks. UKIP also has a strong presence on the local council.

Veteran Labour parliamentarian David Winnick in Walsall North won by 990 votes last time. It would be a remarkable victory for Conservative Douglas Hansen-Luke if he wins in this Labour heartland.

Another one to watch will be Wyre Forest, where the former independent MP Dr Richard Taylor will be trying to win back the seat he lost to Conservative Mark Garnier in 2010.

Dudley South, another that changed hands in 2010, will definitely get a new MP as Conservative Chris Kelly has stood down. It will fall to Councillor Mike Wood to try to hold it, with his main competition coming from Labour's Natasha Millward.

Stourbridge, won by the Conservatives five years ago, will also be one to keep an eye on as Margot James defends her seat against Dudley Council's Labour leader Pete Lowe.

Halesowen and Rowley Regis is another major battleground in the Black Country and has attracted visits from the likes of Osborne and Miliband on both sides of the political divide.

Stafford changed from Labour to the Conservative too last time around. With the future of County Hospital a key topic, the parties must also contend with a challenge from the National Health Action party.

In every seat, too, the Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP are standing.

And the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition adds another left wing competitor to the mix in Dudley North and Walsall North.

Failure to win these seats spells problems for both the Conservatives and Labour if they still believe they can win an outright majority.

Mr Clegg, meanwhile, claimed that any attempt to lead a minority administration would result in chaos, with either Labour or the Tories forced to meet the demands of parties such as SNP or UKIP to prop them up with no guarantee of continuing support.

Nick Clegg

The Deputy Prime Minister warned David Cameron and Ed Miliband against trying to run a 'messy and unstable' minority administration instead of putting the country first.

He said: "The last thing Britain needs is a second election before Christmas. But that is exactly what will happen if Ed Miliband and David Cameron put their own political interest ahead of the national interest."

SNP leader Ms Sturgeon claimed David Cameron's campaign had 'descended into desperation'. She said the SNP showed, following the 2007 Holyrood election, that minority government can work.

She said: "David Cameron's campaign has descended into desperation. The SNP has demonstrated that minority government can be stable, successful and effective.

"We were a minority government for four years and it was so successful that the voters chose to turn it into a majority government."

But Mr Miliband told the Express & Star on his last visit to Dudley at the weekend that there would be no deal.

Mr Miliband has a selfie with Christy Carmichael from Blackheath

He said: "We've said there will be no deals with the SNP and that's the case. There are some parties concentrating on after the election. And there are some parties concentrating on the issues at the election. We will keep fighting on the issues that matter at the election, the NHS, raising the minimum wage, I'll be fighting every step of the way."

Joel Blackwell, Senior researcher at the Hansard Society, the independent authority on democracy, said: "The polls are showing we are heading for a hung parliament and we we could end up with an asymmetric result where one party wins the most seats and another wins the greater share of the vote.

"If that is the outcome there will be a lot of attention on the moral authority of each of the parties to govern.

"That is why every vote counts, even those in safe seats. There is likely be a lot of attention on the share of the vote. Although the share of the vote has no impact on who form the government there could be questions asked about it."

Mr Blackwell said minor parties have been eating away at two-party-politics and that has meant more seats are open and contestable.

And he said smaller parties could have a greater say on policy in the next government and urged people to vote for a candidate rather than spoiling their ballots papers.

Mr Cameron, meanwhile, continues to carry around a note written by Birmingham MP Liam Byrne after Labour left office. The note, left in the Treasury, declared 'there is no money'.

And Gordon Brown made a last ditch appeal for people to vote Labour in the General Election, saying his party could do more for people in minutes than would be achieved if Scotland elected 59 SNP MPs. The former Prime Minister said: "The reason why we can't do a deal with SNP is not expediency, it's on principle."

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