Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 09.49.37With less than two weeks to go, voters in South Tyneside are reminded to make sure they are ready to vote on Election Day.

Voters will go to the polls on Thursday 5 May to elect local government councillors to represent them on South Tyneside Council, with 18 seats across all wards being contested. They will also elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for the Northumbria police area.

Councillor Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Democratic Renewal, said: “With the elections fast approaching, we want to make sure that everyone who is registered to vote knows how to cast their vote on 5 May.

“Many people will have voted before and will be familiar with the process. However there will be some first time voters, particularly among our young people who will be unsure about what to do. Every single vote counts therefore we want everyone to feel comfortable and confident in exercising their right to vote and having their say.

“We would encourage people to consider the information and guidance available about the voting process beforehand so they know what to do.”

What voters need to know before Election Day:-

  • Vote in time:

– Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 5 May. (Voters had to have applied to register to vote by midnight on 18 April in order to be able to vote on the day.)

– Polling cards will have been sent to the addresses of registered voters. The cards give details of the location of their polling station. Voters can only vote at the polling station on their own poll card;

– Plan when to cast your vote and leave plenty of time before the 10pm deadline. Those who arrive at their polling station after 10pm will miss their chance to take part.

  • Postal voting:

– Make sure postal votes are returned by 10pm on Thursday 5 May;

– Those who have not had time to post it before polling day, can take it to the polling station (displayed on their polling card) and hand it in. Postal votes that arrive after 10pm on 5 May will not be counted.

  • Proxy voting:

– If you have appointed a proxy, then they need to make sure they are able to vote at the correct polling station on your behalf;

– If you suddenly become unable to vote in person, due to a medical emergency or because your occupation, service or employment means you cannot go to the polling station, and you only become aware of that fact after the deadline, then you may be entitled to appoint an emergency proxy;

– You can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day. Contact South Tyneside Council’s Elections Team direct about this, on (0191) 424 7248 or 7527.

  • What to take:

– Just yourself;

– You can take the poll card with you to show polling station staff when you arrive. They will still ask for you to confirm your name and address. If you don’t have it with you, just tell the polling station staff your name and your address and they can check whether you are on the electoral register.

  • Social media;

– Social media is a great way to let your friends and family know you have voted and to encourage them to do the same. So use Twitter, Facebook and any other social media accounts you have to get the message out there;

– Remember, pictures of you before you go into or after you leave the polling station are great to use on social media posts but don’t take a picture of yourself inside the polling station as if you post this it could be a breach of the law.

  • How to fill in the ballot paper:

– The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the candidates you can vote for;

– Staff will be on hand at the polling station to provide advice on the voting process;

– Those who are disabled can ask the Presiding Officer for help and they can mark the ballot paper for you. You can also ask someone else to help you (e.g. a support worker, as long as they are either a relative or an eligible elector);

– Those who have a visual impairment can ask for a large print ballot paper or for a special voting device that allows them to vote on their own in secret;

– Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully. It will tell you how to cast your vote. Do not write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted;

– Mark the ballot paper according to the instructions. A pencil will be provided, but some people may prefer to use their own pen;

– If you make a mistake on your ballot paper, don’t worry. So long as you haven’t already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can issue you with a replacement ballot paper;

– Fold your completed ballot paper in half and pop it in the ballot box – and that’s it done!

Ben Brook, Head of the Electoral Commission, English Regions, said: “There are elections taking place all over England on 5 May, so wherever people live it’s important that everybody knows how to take part and have their say on issues in their local area.

“A lot of people don’t know what to expect on polling day, especially if they haven’t voted before, but with so much information available online and through your local Electoral Services team, we hope everyone will be able to feel confident about casting their vote in May.”

For more information about elections in South Tyneside, and a list of candidates in the Local Government Elections on 5 May, visit South Tyneside Council’s website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/elections

Further details about the voting process is available at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk