The May elections are just around the corner, so here is a useful guide to what you can expect if you’re voting in person on Thursday 6 May.
In Halton, elections are taking place for Halton Borough Councillors, the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Mayor, plus Parish Council elections.
The number of different elections taking place means that when you vote, you will use three, or four, separate ballot papers. These will be different colours.
For the local elections – which is an ‘all-out’ election – you will need to mark a cross for up to three preferred candidates, rather than the normal single cross. This is because earlier this year the Local Government Boundary Commission for England confirmed some changes to Halton’s ward boundaries, reducing the number of councillors by two to 54. This means at this local election, you will be voting to choose all three councillors who will represent your ward. *
If the Parish Council election in your parish is contested you will mark a cross for your preferred candidates – the number of seats will vary between parish councils,
Elections for the Police and Crime Commissioners and the Combined Authority Mayor will use the Supplementary Vote system.
The supplementary voting system is different from the ‘first-past-the-post’ method used in local and general elections
When you vote you mark a cross in column one for your first preference candidate. You mark another cross in a column two for your second preference – if you wish to do so.
If a candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the first preference votes then they are elected.
If no candidate reaches the 50 per cent threshold, the two candidates with the highest number of votes remain. This eliminates the other candidates. The second preference of the eliminated candidates are counted and where a second preference is given for one of the two remaining candidates this is added to their first preference votes. The candidate with the most votes at the end of this process is elected.
Where is my polling station?
If you have registered to vote, you will receive a poll card through the post from Halton Borough Council. It will tell you where your polling station is. Make sure you check your poll card before heading out to vote, in case your polling station has changed since you last voted. You can also find out where your polling station is on the Electoral Commission website, by entering your postcode.
Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm. You can vote at any time within this window. And don’t forget, you need to go to your designated polling station.
Will there be safety measures in place at the polling station?
Yes, polling stations will be safe places to vote. You can expect many of the measures you’ve become used to in shops or other indoor spaces, such as social distancing and hand sanitiser.
Do I need to take anything with me?
You can help keep yourself and others safe by:
- wearing a face covering
- bringing your own pen or pencil
- cleaning your hands when entering and leaving the polling station
- keeping a safe distance
Can I still vote if I develop Covid symptoms?
If you become unwell or are self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 shortly before polling day, or on the day itself, you don’t need to miss out on your vote.
You will be able to apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day, so someone you can trust can vote on your behalf. You can arrange it by speaking to the electoral registration team on 0303 333 4300.
For all other information on voting and elections visit our website www.halton.gov.uk
What if I forget my face covering, or to bring a pen or pencil?
You should bring your own pen or pencil, in order to minimise contact. You should also wear a face covering so that you can keep yourself, and others, safe on polling day.
If you forget to bring these with you, polling station staff will have spare face coverings and clean pencils available for you. You will not be prevented from entering the polling station if you forget these things.
How long will it take?
It should only take a few minutes to vote. We have put arrangements in place to help maintain social distancing within the polling station. This means you may have to queue to enter. If you are asked to queue, please be patient and we will work to enable you to vote as quickly as possible.
If you are still in a queue waiting to vote at 10pm, you will be able to vote before the polls close.
What happens when I get there?
Polling station staff will be on hand to greet you and invite you in as soon as polls open at 7am. There will be markers on the floor that will show you which way to go and help you maintain social distancing. Staff will also point out the public health measures that you should follow whilst you’re in the polling station.
The staff will give you ballot papers listing who you can vote for. Take your ballot papers into a polling booth. There will be a shelf for you to lean and write on. Use your own pen or pencil, or if you forgot to bring one, ask the poll clerks for a clean one.
How do I complete the ballot paper?
Take your time: read the ballot paper carefully and complete it in line with the instructions.
Don’t write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.
If you make a mistake, don’t worry – as long as you haven’t already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can give you a replacement ballot paper.
What if I need help?
If you’re not sure what to do, or need any help, just ask the staff at the polling station – they will be happy to assist you.
What if I have access issues?
If you have a disability which means you can’t fill in the ballot paper yourself, you can ask the presiding officer – the person in charge of the polling station – to mark the ballot paper for you, or you can take someone along with you to help you.
If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a large print ballot paper to refer to when you cast your vote, or a special tactile voting device that is designed so you can mark your ballot paper on your own.
Can I take my friend / partner / children / parents / dog?
You can go along to the polling station with whomever you like, but only those registered to vote at that station will be able to go inside. You must not be accompanied into the polling booth by another adult, unless you have a disability, in which case you can take someone in to help you, or you can ask one of the polling station staff for their help.
Children are welcome at polling stations. While your child must not mark the ballot paper for you, you will be allowed to take them into the polling booth with you.
Animals, apart from assistance dogs, are not usually allowed inside polling stations, so will need to be secured outside if you do decide to take them with you.