'Safety first' pledge for May elections in Northumberland
Northumberland County Council is encouraging residents to register for postal voting while setting out safety measures for this year’s elections.
The assurances from the local authority follow confirmation from the Government that local polls will take place on Thursday, May 6, 2021.
In Northumberland, this includes the four-yearly election of county councillors, plus town and parish councillors, as well as the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner vote, which was postponed from May 2020 due to the pandemic.
Preparations are well underway to enable the polls to go ahead safely in a way which is Covid-secure for voters and staff, the council has said, and this includes sending everyone on the electoral register not currently registered to receive a postal ballot paper a letter inviting them to apply.
For those who opt to attend in person, voters will be asked to bring their own pens or pencils to fill in their ballot papers and it will be compulsory to wear face coverings in polling stations unless they can provide a medical exemption.
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Hand sanitisers, divider screens at polling desks and social-distancing markers will also be in place.
Kelly Angus, the council’s deputy chief executive and returning officer, said: “Voting by post saves a trip to the polling station and can be particularly helpful for those who may struggle, those living in a remote rural area and for those who may be working or away on polling day.
“It also offers a safe and secure method of voting, which is particularly important at this time due to coronavirus.
“For those who choose to vote in person, they can expect to see many of the measures they’ve become used to in shops and banks over recent months, such as sanitising, floor markings and face coverings.
“Whichever way works for them, it is really important that everyone makes their voice heard.
“I would urge anyone who has concerns about voting in polling stations to look out for the letter and register for the postal vote as thousands of people in the county already do.”