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Bridgend council officers working on “a number of changes” for 2021 Senedd voting

COUNCIL officers are working on “a number of changes” to keep Bridgend residents safe when voting in this year’s 2021 Senedd election.

The Senedd election is expected to take place on Thursday, May 6 but it could be delayed by up to six months if the Welsh Government decides it is not safe to go ahead at that time.

Elections for police and crime commissioners in Wales are also scheduled on the same day.

Voters will be able to attend polling stations as usual but must wear face masks, use hand sanitiser and maintain social distancing.

“The safest way to vote, of course, will be to do so by post,” said Mark Shephard, Bridgend County Borough Council’s chief executive and returning officer.

“We are anticipating an increase in requests for this option, and will be taking on extra staff to ensure that it can all be processed efficiently.”

If it is formally announced that the election will take place, the council “will be making every effort to protect voters and staff from exposure to the coronavirus,” said Mr Shephard.

The council aims “to ensure that the elections can take place with a minimum of disruption,” he added.

“Our electoral team is already hard at work and are preparing to introduce a number of changes as a direct result of the pandemic.

“Because certain traditional venues are not currently available in some areas, we are having to source alternative locations.”

Screens will also be in place at polling stations while voters collect their ballot papers before casting their votes.

Council staff will also be present at these venues to limit the number of people inside them and implement a one-way system.

If the election goes ahead, the electoral count will take place on the following day, according to Mr Shephard.

He said a “suitable venue” has been found for the count and “a number of practical changes will be necessary”.

Staff numbers will be limited at the count, with social distancing in place between counters, candidates and counting agents.

“While the impact on staff numbers may mean that the count could take longer to complete, we will be doing everything we can to ensure that it all runs smoothly, efficiently and safely, and that accurate results can be returned for both the Senedd and police and crime commissioner elections.”

Households will soon receive letters letting them know who is on the electoral agenda at each address. They will also be told what their current voting preference is and how they can change their preference if they wish to do so.

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