COVID-19: England’s local elections to go ahead in May – with voters told to bring their own pens | Politics News

skynews local elections polling station 5236280

Local elections will go ahead in England in May with councils being given an additional £30m to make polling stations and counts COVID-safe.

Voters will probably be requested to bring their own pens or pencils to fill in their poll papers, whereas the sporting of face coverings will probably be made obligatory in polling stations.

Hand sanitiser, divider screens, and social distancing markers can even be supplied at polling stations, whereas new measures to scale back journey for potential candidates when finishing their nomination varieties will probably be launched.

Proxy voting guidelines will probably be modified to permit those that want to self-isolate to request an emergency proxy vote up to 5pm on polling day itself.

Ministers are additionally reminding all voters they will request a postal vote in advance of polling day, though the federal government won’t be imposing obligatory postal voting due to fears of an elevated threat of fraud.

On Thursday 6 May, elections will probably be held throughout England’s county councils, metropolitan boroughs, unitary authorities and district councils, in addition to for the London Meeting.

Elections can even be held for police and crime commissioners in England and Wales, in addition to for 13 instantly-elected mayors in England – together with in London.

Many of the elections had been postponed for 12 months following their cancellation final 12 months due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though England continues to be in a nationwide lockdown, the federal government justified the holding of elections this 12 months by pointing to how elections have been held underneath COVID restrictions in international locations reminiscent of Eire, France, Italy, Portugal, Israel, South Korea and america.

By 6 May, the 9 most weak teams in the UK must also have obtained COVID vaccines underneath the nationwide vaccination programme.

Subscribe to the Day by day podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Chloe Smith, structure and devolution minister, stated: “We’re publishing an in depth plan to ship May’s elections in a protected and safe method.

“That is backed up by extra funding for councils, and sensible modifications to electoral legal guidelines to assist each voters and candidates.

“Democracy shouldn’t be cancelled due to COVID.

“Greater than ever, local individuals want their say as we construct again higher, on points starting from local roads, to safer streets, to the extent of council tax.

“As the federal government rolls out the vaccine to essentially the most weak, we will probably be ready to depart lockdown and open our nation up safely once more.

“We’ll work with political events to be certain that these essential elections are free and truthful.”

There will probably be an estimated £92m of presidency grant funding to local authorities for this 12 months’s elections, of which £31m is instantly linked to extra prices for making polling stations and counts COVID-safe.

May’s elections would be the first electoral checks for politicians for the reason that coronavirus disaster started.

It would even be the primary elections for Labour underneath their new chief, Sir Keir Starmer.

An Electoral Fee spokesperson stated: “It is a vital democratic precept that elections ought to proceed as scheduled each time attainable.

“The electoral neighborhood has been getting ready for Covid-protected elections since final March, when the 2020 elections had been postponed.

“Collectively, we’ve taken steps to assist everybody concerned participate safely and confidently.”