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Welsh Government will allow campaigning in Senedd election as Covid restrictions ease

09 Mar 2021 5 minutes Read
Voting in Wales

The Welsh Government have announced that they will allow door to door campaigning in the Senedd election as the Covid-19 restrictions ease.

They along with the Scottish and UK Governments released a joint statement today saying that elections will go ahead on 6 May.

The statement said that campaigning is important to ensure voters are well informed before going to the polls, and candidates must be able to communicate with the electorate.

“Campaigning activity, such as leafleting, will commence across the UK as COVID restrictions ease; the pace of this will vary between nations and campaigners in each nation will need to follow the guidance and regulations made by the relevant Government,” the statement said.

The statement said that emergency proxy voting rules will mean that voters who are self-isolating due to coronavirus exposure, testing or symptoms can still vote.

There had been concerns that the elections might need to be postponed, as Police and Crime Commissioner elections were last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the statement confirmed that the Senedd elections will go ahead in Wales, Police Crime Commissioner elections in Wales and England, Holyrood elections in Scotland, and local and London Mayor and Assembly elections in England.

Wales’ Local Government Minister Julia James had said earlier this week that “the Welsh Government’s firm intention is that the election will proceed on 6 May 2021 and a postponement of the election would only be used as a last resort if the public health situation required it”.

The Welsh, Scottish and UK Governments’ joint declaration said that despite the pandemic “we have seen elections delivered successfully across the globe”.

“National elections have gone ahead in many countries including Ireland, France, Italy, Portugal, Israel, South Korea and the United States,” it said. “Further elections are due to be held around the world between March and May.

“Voters will soon begin to receive their polling cards for these elections and we would like to reassure them of the extensive preparations that are being made to allow these polls to take place in a way that minimises the risk of spreading the coronavirus.”

‘Comfortable’

The statement said that the polls in May will take place in a similar way to previous polls but there will be differences to ensure they are Covid-secure and voters can feel confident casting their vote.

“Voters attending polling stations can expect to see many of the protective measures with which they are already now familiar – hand sanitiser will be available, and screens, distance markings and protective barriers will be in use as appropriate,” they said.

“Social distancing will be in place both inside and outside polling stations and all voters and staff should wear a face covering. Voters will be encouraged to bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot papers, although fresh clean pencils will still be available for all.

“Anyone who feels comfortable going to a supermarket or a post office now can therefore feel confident attending a polling station in May. However, we understand that not everyone will wish or be able to vote in person.

“Therefore, 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.

“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. The deadline for applications does vary across the UK, and we therefore encourage all voters wishing to use one of these options to apply early.”

They also said that anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus, or who is displaying symptoms, should still self-isolate and not go to the polls.

“The UK government, Scottish Government and Welsh Government have each put in place new rules to allow for emergency proxy voting leading up to polling day and until 5pm on the day itself,” they said.

“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 must also appreciate that for these polls, due to the additional measures in place to make the counts COVID-secure, it may be the case that the counting of votes and announcement of results will take longer than previous years. However, the announcement of results will be made as soon as is practicable after the close of the polls.

“The United Kingdom is world-renowned for running elections of the highest standards in which voters can have full confidence, delivered in each area by the statutorily independent Returning Officer. We have the utmost confidence in the ability of the Returning Officers to run these polls in a way that meets the highest standards of both public safety and democratic integrity.

“We hope that every elector will take the opportunity to have their say in May’s elections with the confidence that the right precautions are in place.”

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