LONDON — Election Day usually brings good dogs everywhere to polling stations across Britain. But this time the tradition took a more inclusive turn, featuring reindeer, horses and even a giant tortoise named Yoda.
This is the third general election in four years in the country, and many voters have grown tired of lawmakers bickering over the future of Britain and Brexit — the divisive issue at the center of the snap election. For many, the tradition provides some light relief during a stressful and tense period.
By Thursday afternoon, the #dogsatpollingstations hashtag had been used more than 45,000 times on Twitter, with thousands sharing photos of their pawlitical furry friends standing outside local polling stations. Some posters even competed to see whether their dog had been the first to arrive as the polls opened at 7 a.m.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan took his dog along with him to vote, tweeting a video of them with the caption: “Luna says #VoteLabour.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also snapped with his energetic dog, Dilyn, which rolled around in his arms and attempted to lick his face.
Many photos taken Thursday show dogs patiently waiting outside polling stations as their owners cast their vote inside. As in the United States, polling stations in Britain can be found at local schools and libraries. But voters can also cast ballots at pubs and more unconventional locations, including hair salons, a historic windmill in eastern England and a launderette in Oxford.
According to the electoral commission, animals are not usually allowed inside polling stations — apart from assistance dogs.
In southwest England, reindeer from a ranch in Somerset were spotted — bringing a festive twist to a December election. Traditionally, British elections take place in May or June.
There were also some tweets about #catsatpollingstations because anything dogs can do, cats can do, too.
Then came the horses and, of course, the hashtag #HorsesAtPollingStations.
YouGov’s constituency-by-constituency poll predicted Conservatives would win 339 seats and Labour 231. If Johnson’s party wins, the path to Brexit will be cleared, shattering the dream some still hold of a second referendum.
Election results are expected late Thursday, with voting closing at 10 p.m. local time.