By KLTV Newsesk –
It’s local election day as polling stations up and down Kirklees and the UK open their doors to those looking to cast their vote in person.
People will be able to vote on who they want to represent them on their local council, and also who they would like to see as the first West Yorkshire Mayor.
The local elections specifically were originally scheduled to take place in May 2020 but had to be postponed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The polling stations officially opened from 7 am this morning (6 May) and will close at 10 pm tonight.
Due to the effects of the ongoing pandemic, those aiming to vote in person may find the process of doing so a little different from usual.
With that in mind, KLTV has gathered all the relevant information you’ll need to be able to vote in person securely and safely. The Electoral Commission Twitter account is also tweeting out useful advice throughout the day.
First things first, it’s important to know where your nearest polling station is. The website https://wheredoivote.co.uk/ is a useful tool for doing so. Simply type in your postcode, select your address, and the site will show you your nearest station, along with a map and directions on how to get there.
One important thing to note is you don’t need your polling card in order to be able to vote in person. Simply give your name to the polling station staff when you arrive and they will issue you with your relevant ballot papers.
It is paramount that you do not attend a polling station if you are feeling unwell.
If you have to or are in the process of self-isolating, it is possible to have someone you trust vote on your behalf. This is known as an emergency proxy and is useful in any situation in which you are unable to vote by other means. You must apply for a proxy vote by 5 pm today, and can do so via the Electoral Commission website.
Once you arrive at your polling station, you will notice that due to COVID-19 there will multiple safety measures in place designed to keep people as safe as possible while voting.
While this may have the unavoidable consequence of longer queue times, it is all in the interest of safety, and those working at the stations will still try to make the process as quick and painless as possible.
Don’t worry about the poll closing while you’re still in line, as long as you enter the queue before 10 pm, you will be allowed to vote.
To help yourself with these circumstances, it is advised that you give yourself plenty of time to vote, and try to visit your station during less busy times such as lunchtime or mid-afternoon.
While waiting to enter your polling station, you may see people who will approach you and ask you for your polling card number. These individuals are known as ‘Tellers’ and do have permission to be there. However, you don’t have to give any information if you don’t want to.
As with any election, you may see parties and/or candidates campaigning throughout the day, both in-person and online. This is generally allowed, so long as it’s not being down within the polling station area.
If you see someone campaigning on behalf of a party outside of a polling station, it is advised that you report this to Returning Officer inside the station as soon as you are able.
Inside the Polling Station
Once you’re inside, as per the current COVID-19 restrictions, you will be required to wear a face mask or covering for the duration.
Hand sanitiser is being made available, and it’s asked that you use it both when entering and exiting the polling station, you can also use your own if you have brought it.
Depending on the station staff may be behind protective screens, similar to staff in shops, however, they will be on hand to assist as needed.
Regular cleaning of each station will be taking place, so even if a station becomes free, you may have to wait a minute while it is cleaned.
You are encouraged to bring your own pen or pencil with you if possible. Don’t worry if you don’t though, as clean pencils will be available at the station.
Where possible, polling stations will have a one-way system, so be prepared to follow the signage and any instructions.
Voting will follow a similar process as usual, so be sure to read through each of your voting ballots carefully, as the different elections may have different instructions to follow. Be clear and concise when marking your ballots also.
Finally, once you’ve completed your ballot papers and placed them in the ballot box, continue to follow the instructions and guidance inside the station as you make your way out, and you’re done!
If at any point you are unsure of what to do or need any help casting your vote, just ask the staff at the polling station, they will be happy to assist you however you need.
With such a large number of votes taking place, it will be interesting to see how the results play out and possibly shake up the Council, especially after the past year, and with the introduction of a West Yorkshire Mayor.
If you need a refresher on the candidate for the West Yorkshire Mayor, be sure to check out our overview of the five major candidates vying for the position and what they’re promising.