Council prepares to hold election during pandemic

With expectations building that Welsh Government and Police and Crime Commissioner elections will take place in May, Bridgend County Borough Council is planning ahead to make sure that people will be able to cast their votes in safety.

Chief Executive Mark Shephard, who also acts as the county borough’s Returning Officer during elections, said: “In the event that a notice of poll is issued formally announcing that elections are going ahead, Bridgend County Borough Council will be making every effort to protect voters and staff from exposure to the coronavirus, and to ensure that the elections can take place with a minimum of disruption.

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

“Voters will still be able to go to a local polling station, but because certain traditional venues are not currently available in some areas, we are having to source alternative locations.

“Within the polling stations themselves, we will be restricting the number of voters who can enter at any one time, and where possible will be operating a one-way system.

“Voters will be required to use face coverings and hand sanitiser within each station, while screens will be set up to help keep them safe while they collect their ballot papers before casting their vote.

“The safest way to vote, of course, will be to do so by post. 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.

“Households will soon be receiving a notification letter which will let residents know who is on the electoral register at each address, what their current voting preference is, and options for changing that preference if they so wish.

“In terms of the electoral count itself, it has already been agreed that in the event the elections go ahead, the count will not take place until the following day.

“While we have a suitable venue lined up for this, a number of practical changes will be necessary.

“The number of staff who can be present at the count will be limited because of the pandemic requirements. Safe distancing will be in effect, so there will be physical changes to ensure that there are two metres between counters and the candidates and counting agents who will be observing them.

“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.”

  • Look out for more details soon.