With just under two weeks before people in Somerset go to the polls voters are being urged to get ready for the forthcoming local elections.
Voters will already have a poll card informing them where they should go to cast their vote. Voters will be allocated to a polling station based on their home address.
Information on polling stations is also available on the Electoral Commission’s website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/your-election-information.
There are 110 seats available across the county, two in each of the 55 divisions with voters able to cast two votes in each division – the area that councillors represent – on polling day.
These are crucial elections for Somerset with the creation of a new, unitary council in April 2023 – the first major change to the way the county is governed in almost 50 years.
For their first year, the councillors will take responsibility for all current County Council services and oversee the local government reorganisation to establish a single unitary council on 1 April 2023. District councils will remain until 31 March 2023 and the councillors serving on them will continue in their roles until that date.
From 1 April 2023, the 110 councillors of the unitary council will be responsible for services that are currently delivered by the county and four district councils, ranging from adults and children’s social care to highways and housing, and from libraries to planning and licensing.
City, town, and parish council elections also take place on 5 May. Those elected will also serve a five-year term in office.
Pat Flaherty, Returning Officer for Somerset County Council, said: “Make sure you check the information on your poll card, as your polling station might have changed since the last election.
“Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 5 May. Voters who have opted to vote by post must return their postal ballot pack by 10pm; they can hand it in at their polling station if they have not got time to return it by post.”
Those voting in person on 5 May might see some public health measures in place at polling stations, such as hand sanitiser. Face coverings are not mandatory. Pencils will be provided but voters can bring their own pen or pencil if they wish.
If you are self-isolating or become unwell as a result of Covid-19, you do not need to lose your vote. Voters have up to 5pm on polling day to apply for an emergency proxy vote. This allows them to nominate someone they trust to vote on their behalf. For further information on how to apply for an emergency proxy, voters should contact the electoral registration team at their local district council: Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset. For more information about the elections, please visit: https://www.somerset.gov.uk/how-the-council-works/elections/