By Duncan Leatherdale BBC News

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The sight of sprinting students carrying ballot boxes into North East counting centres has become a feature of election night coverage. But are Sunderland and Newcastle really engaged in a race to be first with the results?

As soon as the polls close across the country at 22:00 GMT on 12 December, ballot boxes will be whisked to leisure centres and community halls for the often long and painstaking counting process.

But in north-east England the counting is usually much, much quicker.

Sunderland has traditionally been the quickest to reveal the first result of the night – usually within an hour of voting ending. From 1992 until 2015 the first

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