MAY 6 ELECTIONS: How to avoid polling stations but still vote - details
Friday 5th February 2021
ELECTIONS scheduled for May 6 are likely to go ahead despite the current lockdown and continued concern over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seats on Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council are up for grabs.
The Coronavirus crisis is likely to spark a surge in interest to vote by post.
The Government's decision to press ahead with a spring election, having resisted calls to hold the polls in the autumn, will have consequences for everyone involved, not least the voters.
Those in vulnerable categories may be unwilling or too fearful to go to a polling station in person, despite raised levels of public protecgtion measures.
Experts say that the postal system may well also see some first time voters taking the opportunity to take part in the democratic process.
One local councillor said: "If a friend or family member does not use the internet, perhaps you'd be good enough to print a form out and pop it in the post when it's filled in. It's very simple to use and the commission sets out the process very clearly."
Elections were cancelled last year and the Prime Minister is thought to be reluctant to lose the opportunity of cashing in on a feelgood factor of mass vaccinations and possible announcements of a return to near-normal life.
Those who do visit the borough 70-plus polling station will have to wear a mask and bring their own pencil.
The delicate balance of power at MBC could shift from the ruling Liberal Democrats/Labour/independent alliance to the Tories by gaining a few seats.
The officers and MBC leadership's record on planning, meeting housing quotas and proposed closure of the Hazlitt Theatre may sway votes either way. The spending of tens of millions of pounds of public money on properties (including £19m on the Lockmeadow complex which is currently shut) may also come into play.
An online poll carried out by Daily Downs Mail showed 87% of respondents said the Hazlitt Theatre closure issue would afect the way they voted next time.
For candidates, they have to get their nomination forms signed by ten people in person which can't be done in the current restrictions.
An early election also indicates the PM is ready to get children back to school sooner rather than later.
GRAPHIC: THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
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