Calderdale residents encouraged to apply for postal votes
Calderdale Council is encouraging to apply for postal votes to take part in the May elections.
The council’s Head of Legal Ian Hughes, said these would in Calderdale Council, some parish council, and the first West Yorkshire Mayoral elections with polling on May 6.
Calderdale was publicising postal voting but polling stations on the day would also be ready, with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, said Mr Hughes.
“We are encouraging as many voters as possible to register for a postal vote,” said Mr Hughes.
This would minimise contact people would have through the traditional methods at a polling station – as well as being promoted online residents have been sent letters explaining how they can register for a postal vote.
“We still have to have the polling stations which we have ensured are booked well in advance.
“All venues have been fully assessed, taking into account access, egress and movements through the polling station, and we will make them as safe as possible,” said Mr Hughes.
He said the use of some schools – which are due to fully open on March 8 – as polling stations was being reconsidered.
Unless circumstances were exceptional, schools would not have to close because of polling.
“We are down to just seven schools to be used across the district and five of them we know would be holding a training or inset day so would be closed in any event, we are checking on the other two,” said Mr Hughes.
For the count using space at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax, will take in the large and smaller halls, given parish and Mayoral elections were also taking place.
The large hall traditionally used would be kitted out in such a way that it provided a safe environment for counting staff, candidates, agents and others entitled to be there.
“Measures are being continually reassessed to make sure we can put in the requisite preventative steps, and we are ready to react to issues,” said Mr Hughes.
“I am confident that what we put in place will be as good as we can make it.”
Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) asked if counting staff would have full PPE as they would be handling 1,000s of voting papers, and Mr Hughes said the electoral team was consulting with public health colleagues about the issue.
Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) asked about volunteer numbers, people who helped man polling stations and the count which might be affected by the pandemic.
Mr Hughes said: “We are comfortable we have got staffing numbers to provide us with polling clerks, returning officers and counting staff.”
This detail extended to ensuring members of the same household who volunteers would be included in the same polling “bubble” at the same place.