Local elections 2021 – when will they take place and how will they be made COVID safe?

Local Elections 2021

Local elections that were originally due to take place last year are set to go ahead in May 2021, but with the ever-changing COVID situation this could be subject to change.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs last month that while the plan was still for local and mayoral elections to happen on 6 May in England, this remained “under review”.

There are a number of elections scheduled to take place on 6 May 2021, including those postponed in May 2020:

  • Local council elections in Englandl
  • Local and Combined Authority Mayoral elections
  • Mayor of London and London Assembly elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales
  • Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliamentary election
  • Scottish Parliamentary election

To find out more about the upcoming elections, visit: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/elections-and-referendums/upcoming-elections

Will the local elections take place in May?

Although the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic means that all government plans are effectively subject to change, the strong expectation is the polls will go ahead this year.

With the recent rise in COVID cases and the implementation of another national lockdown, it remains to be seen whether the local elections will go ahead in May. If not, officials have suggested they could take place in June or July – with others suggesting it may be better to delay them until late summer/autumn.

A recent survey from the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) has revealed that councils are overwhelmingly concerned about their ability to deliver a May poll, with 69% of council officials saying they believe an autumn timetable is more achievable.

NALC are currently running a campaign to encourage more people to put themselves forward for election as local councillors – for more information on the #MakeAChange campaign visit: https://www.nalc.gov.uk/our-work/local-elections

How will local elections be made COVID-safe?

Whether the local elections take place in May or later in the year, it is clear that there will be pressure on councils to create a safe environment for voters.

The Government has already rejected proposals for running an extended postal vote, with election administrators warning that it is now too late to switch to an all-postal vote system. Meanwhile. some councils have reported having issues with confirming the use of regular polling stations, while other buildings previously used for elections are not suitable to supporting social distancing measures.

It all adds up to extra pressure being place on councils to try to ensure voting stations are ‘COVID-secure’. Some early proposals on how to do this include requiring voters to bring their own pen to the polling station to limit the chances of COVID transmission.

Other simple measures include requiring polling staff to stand behind plastic screens and wear PPE at all times, as well as practical steps like asking voters to show polling cards rather than handing them over.

 

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