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Extra £1.5m for screens, pencils and face masks to make Senedd election ‘Covid secure’

22 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Polling station. Picture by the Welsh Government

The Welsh Government is making £1.5m available to returning officers to enable polling stations for the Senedd election to be made covid-secure.

The funding is being provided to cover the range of extra staff and equipment required to ensure the protection of staff and public health.

Voters attending polling stations will see many of the protective measures they are already now familiar with in other settings, the Welsh Government said.

Hand sanitiser will be available, and screens, social distance markings and protective barriers will be in use as appropriate.

In addition, all voters and staff should wear a face covering (unless exempt), while social distancing will be in place both inside and outside polling stations.

While voters will be encouraged to bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot papers, fresh clean pencils will still be available.

Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said: “The Welsh Government recognises the challenges of running an election during the current pandemic.

“The additional £1.5m in funding we’re making available will help ensure polling stations are covid-secure for both staff and voters. This includes funding for personal protective equipment, social distancing aides, cleaning materials, and additional staff to manage polling stations.”

‘Difficult’

Anyone who is shielding, or anyone who would for any reason prefer not to attend a polling station, can apply for a postal or proxy vote in advance of the elections, the Welsh Government said.

Details on how to apply for a postal or proxy vote can be found on the Electoral Commission website and will also be provided on poll cards.

Anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus, or who is displaying symptoms, should self-isolate. The Welsh Government has put in place new rules to allow for emergency proxy voting leading up to polling day and until 5pm on the day itself.

This will mean that voters who are self-isolating due to coronavirus exposure, testing or symptoms can still have their say in these elections without having to leave their home.

“We are all aware how difficult it has been to continue with essential local authority services over the past year,” Julie James said.

“Electoral administrators and returning officers are no exception to this and have been working tirelessly in a challenging and ever-changing environment to prepare for these elections and maintain public confidence in our democracy. I am very grateful to them for their endeavours.”

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