Elections 2021: Do I need my own pencil to vote? Covid safe rules

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Officials across the country have worked to ensure polling stations are Covid safe for the “super Thursday” round of local elections. They say similar social-distancing rules currently applied in shops will be enforced in the hundreds of schools, community centres and other venues being used for voting. The District Councils’ Network, which represents many of the returning officers responsible for the elections, is urging people to vote safely and expect things to be different to the usual voting process.

Regular cleaning will be carried out at polling stations. Officials say clear signs and floor markings have been put in place to help manage queues.

Screens to separate voters from staff are expected to be in place in most polling stations.

Several museums, theatres and other unexpected venues are being used as polling stations today in place of previous facilities that are being used as vaccination centres.
Councils are asking voters to:

  • Not attend polling stations if they are self-isolating or have coronavirus symptoms. They can apply for an emergency proxy instead;
  • Bring their own pens or pencils, although most venues are expected to provide some spare clean pencils;
  • Wear a face covering unless exempt;
  • Use hand sanitiser to clean hands when entering and exiting polling stations;
  • Observe safe social distancing;
  • Expect voting to take a little longer this year as stations may close briefly during the day for cleaning.

Bill Cullen, chairman of the District Councils’ Network’s Chief Executive Group, said: “This year’s local elections will be like no other, taking place during a pandemic.

“Councils have pulled out all the stops to try and make them run as smoothly, safely and normally as possible. Voters should be reassured that polling stations have been made Covid-safe and secure, and staff will be on hand to help people safely exercise their right to vote.

“However, we need members of the public to play their part, by following a few, simple safety measures, which they will be familiar with from attending any indoor location.

“Although we would ask people to be prepared that it might take a little longer than usual to cast their vote, and to bring their own pen or pencil if they can, though we will hold plenty of spares.”

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