Here’s what you need to know:
How does the election work?
Britain’s voters head to the polls in their local areas on Thursday to cast ballots for members of Parliament in the second general election to be held since the country voted to leave the European Union.
And while Brexit has dominated the agenda — with the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Boris Johnson putting the issue at the center of its campaign, vowing to “get Brexit done” — other key issues may determine the outcome. The opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has put health care at the center of its pitch, framing itself as the defender of Britain’s revered National Health Service.
Several smaller parties — including the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Brexit Party, and pro-independence parties in Scotland and Wales — are also running and could play a decisive role.
Voters will be choosing who will represent their local district, or constituency, in Parliament: 650 lawmakers in total will be chosen as members of the House of Commons, which decides the country’s laws and policies.
Polls are open until 10 p.m., and exit poll results will begin to emerge almost immediately, with the official results coming in overnight.
Long lines are seen in London and beyond.
Voters across London described crowds at their polling stations and posted photographs of long lines. Few claimed that their ability to vote was affected, but many noted that such waits were unusual in Britain.
Ed O’Meara shared pictures from his polling station in the Balham and Tooting area of South London that showed a line stretching out the door and up the road.
A voter at a different polling site in Balham described a 20-minute wait.
Those casting ballots outside the capital described similar scenes.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever had to queue & wait outside of a polling station in order to exercise my right,” wrote one Twitter user shared a photograph said to be taken in Cambridge.
Several voters in the Anfields area of Manchester described long lines, and voters in Edinburgh said that lines had formed outside polling stations by 8 a.m., just an hour after the polls opened.
There are tight restrictions on reporting.
Once polls are open on Election Day, the British broadcasters that were reporting feverishly in the lead-up to the vote will suddenly have a noticeable lack of coverage.
It’s illegal for anyone in Britain to publish information on how people say they have voted — exit polling, or forecasts based on it — until after polls close at 10 p.m. local time.
The rules for broadcasters go further, however. A code of conduct laid out by Britain’s communications regulator, Ofcom, specifies that all discussion and analysis of election issues on television and radio must cease once polls open, that no opinion polls can be published and that no coverage of opinion polls is allowed while people are voting.
“When people are going to the polls on Election Day, it’s important that everyone can vote on the same information,” the regulator explained.
The Guardian has an item on its live briefing urging readers to comment, but to avoid saying how they voted.
“Please keep posting your comments below, but don’t say how you voted,” the note reads. “The Representation of the People Act outlaws the reporting of how people voted.”
Broadcasters’ websites generally follow suit. “There will be no coverage of any issues directly pertinent to the election campaigns on any BBC outlet,” according to the public broadcaster’s internal election guidelines.
But the broadcaster found itself in hot water almost immediately when Laura Kuenssberg, a political editor, offered a short assessment of the postal vote on Wednesday night. The BBC denied that her comment broke any laws.
Broadcasters have a varied offering for election night.
Now, rolling coverage is standard and the offerings from British broadcasters are a far cry from the radio reports in the first half of the 20th century, when “listeners simply tuned in to the radio to hear the election results read by an announcer.”
The BBC will, as always, be there to broadcast and analyze the results as they are announced. But it faces stiff competition for eyeballs from other broadcasters.
“John will bring his own authority, and no little wit to a night of high drama,” said John Ryley, the head of Sky News. The broadcaster will also try to entice younger views by partnering with BuzzFeed and streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.
Channel 4 has brought on board political heavyweights like Amber Rudd, the former home secretary, and Tom Watson, the former deputy Labour leader, as well as comedians like Katherine Ryan. They will also be joined by Rylan Clark-Neal, a former contestant on the talent show “The X Factor” and on the British “Celebrity Big Brother” who will be talking through results with the studio audience. On his role, Mr. Clark-Neal said, “Who would have thought that as an ‘X-Factor’ reject I would be hosting election night?”
Forget politics. Dogs are at polling stations.
#Dogsatpollingstations has become something of an Election Day tradition in Britain, with voters sharing photographs of their pups outside their local polling stations. And with three general elections and the Brexit referendum held since 2015, people have had plenty of chances to participate.
Several high-profile voters got in on the action on Thursday, with Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, accompanied by his dog, Luna, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving with his dog, Dilyn.
In much of Britain, the dogs and their owners had to brave a cold, wet morning at the polls, but few seemed to mind.
Party leaders cast their ballots.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson broke from tradition on Thursday and voted in Westminster, where his official residence is, rather than Uxbridge, the area where he is running for re-election.
The London voting district where Mr. Johnson cast his ballot, the Cities of London and Westminster — known informally as the Two Cities — had a large pro-European vote during the Brexit referendum and was seen as one of the Labour Party’s main election targets. But it is also full of bankers and lawyers, long seen as natural Conservative voters.
The constituency is now considered one to watch in the election, and a tight race is expected.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, gave reporters a thumbs up after he cast his ballot in the Islington area of London, the constituency where he is seeking re-election.
Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, voted in their respective constituencies in Glasgow.
In this campaign, disinformation became ‘normalized.’
In the run-up to the election, manipulated Twitter accounts, doctored videos and dodgy websites became part of everyday life in Britain. When an accurate story about a young boy being forced to lie on the floor in an overcrowded hospital quickly became an election issue, disinformation was at the fore in the form of a social media campaign to discredit the boy’s family.
While questions have been raised about foreign meddling and international disinformation campaigns, a surprising amount of questionable behavior and content has come from the political parties and candidates themselves.
The use of disinformation techniques by political leaders, particularly the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, points to an evolution in how the internet is being used to grab attention, distract the news media, stoke outrage and rally support.
“This is the election where disinformation was normalized,” said Jacob Davey, a senior researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based group that tracks global disinformation campaigns. “A few years ago people were looking for a massive coordinated campaign from a hostile state actor. Now, many more actors are getting involved.”
Anti-Semitism and Brexit have left Jewish voters torn.
The Labour Party was once a natural fit for Jewish voters, but with accusations of anti-Semitism rife, many are left feeling stuck with a choice among lesser evils in the election.
Jewish voters in Britain overwhelmingly opposed Brexit, the issue at the core of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party campaign, dreading a resurgent far right and the splintering of the European Union.
But they are also reluctant to hand power to Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party after an avalanche of anti-Semitism accusations against the party.
“I feel quite torn,” said Keith Kahn-Harris, a Jewish sociologist and writer. “The issue in the Jewish community at the moment is anti-Semitism is something you can’t hold your nose for, the one thing you can’t overlook, which I understand. But for me, there are multiple things I can’t overlook, and it’s very difficult to know how to balance them.”
The anti-Semitism scandal is “gravely damaging Labour’s reputation as the nice party,” said Glen O’Hara, a historian at Oxford Brookes University. And it has frustrated voters already dubious of Mr. Corbyn’s anti-Brexit bona fides.
The youth vote could prove crucial.
The youth vote may again have a major impact on the outcome of the election, as it did in the 2017 vote.
Then, a large youth turnout and a dominant performance among young voters helped Labour win enough seats to unexpectedly deprive the governing Conservative Party of its parliamentary majority.
Brexit has been seen by many young people — who grew up only knowing Britain as part of the European Union — as a threat to their ability to travel, study or work abroad. Along with the environment, education and housing, it continues to be one of the most important issues for young voters, according to an analysis by YouGov, an internet market research firm based in Britain.
“This election is the most significant of our time. It will determine our future,” said Harriet Farmer, 19, a student at the University of Southampton. “Young people are always overlooked, but in this election, we will make ourselves heard. We are engaged, we have registered and we will vote our way out of this mess.”
Mark Landler, Stephen Castle, Amie Tsang, Megan Specia, Adam Satariano, Benjamin Mueller and Patrick Kingsley contributed reporting.