Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter
Voters are being urged to take a number of steps to remain safe when visiting polling stations for this year’s Senedd election – such as bringing their own pen.
The election is due to take place on Thursday May 6 with measures in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Neath Port Talbot Council is encouraging people to bring a pen or pencil with them when casting their ballot among other guidelines.
A spokesperson for the council said the advice to bring your own pen has been provided by the Electoral Commission in an attempt to make voters feel safe while voting.
However, bringing your own stationery will not be mandatory.
“Ballot pencils will still be provided as usual at the polling station and cleaned regularly by polling station staff for the use of electors who wish to use them,” the spokesperson said.
They added: “A number of measures will be put in place that will make these forthcoming elections look and feel different to electors.
“Voters attending their local polling station can expect to see many of the measures they have become used to over recent months in banks, shops and other indoor spaces.
“For example, they will be asked to use hand sanitiser provided when they enter and exit the polling station and must wear a face covering at all times (unless subject to an exemption) and encouraged to bring their own pen or pencil to mark the ballot papers.
“Social distancing measures and protective screens will also be in place and, depending on the polling station venue, there may be a one-way system in operation which will mean that voters may have to queue to enter the polling station as there will be a limit to the number of voters allowed in the building at any one time.”
Local authorities will also be providing extra staff at larger polling stations to manage the flow of voters and encourage social distancing.
Similar measures will also be put in place for events such as issuing and opening postal votes and counting votes.
The Welsh and UK Governments are responsible for guidance on elections and funding all relevant election costs such as providing personal protective equipment.
Council elections will take place in Wales in May 2022.