VOTERS are going to the polls today (Thursday) in what has been described by party leaders as the most important general election in a generation.
Residents in New Forest East, New Forest West and Christchurch are choosing between a combined 13 candidates, with all three seats currently held by the Conservatives.
Polling stations opened at 7am this morning and will close at 10pm tonight, shortly before the national exit poll will be announced giving a likely indication of the winning party – or another hung parliament.
During the local campaign hundreds of people attended hustings throughout the area, with candidates answering questions at events held in Sway, Brockenhurst, Fordingbridge, Ringwood and Christchurch.
There was street campaigning too with activists canvassing at Lymington market and on Christchurch high street.
Brexit is thought to have been the key issue for many, but other concerns locally have included housing, the environment and speeding up business development.
The New Forest general election counts are being overseen by New Forest District Council at Applemore leisure centre, with results expected by about 2am tomorrow (Friday).
The New Forest East constituency is currently held by Conservative Julian Lewis who is facing a four-way challenge from Julie Hope (Labour), Bob Johnston (Liberal Democrat), Nicola Jolly (Green) and Andrew Knight (Animal Welfare Party).
In New Forest West the contest is between sitting Conservative Sir Desmond Swayne and Nick Bubb (Green), Jack Davies (Liberal Democrats) and Jo Graham (Labour).
The Christchurch seat is being defended by Conservative Sir Chris Chope against Mike Cox (Liberal Democrat), Andrew Dunne (Labour) and Chris Rigby (Green).
The Christchurch constituency’s count is being run by BCP Council at the Bournemouth International Centre. Results from across the local authority’s area are expected to be announced by 5am.