When are the local elections 2021 and how do I check if I’m registered to vote?

ALL local elections scheduled for 2020 in England and Wales were postponed for a year until May 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We explain when and where they are happening, and how to check if you’re registered to vote.

When and where are the local elections?

Local elections are taking place on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

There are 343 councils in England, but not every authority will be holding elections.

Elections take place in four-year cycles, so different councils hold polls in different years.

The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) said that “with two years worth of elections, it’s going to be ‘Super Thursday’.”

It adds that in England, the 2021 local elections include over 150 local authority elections in hundreds of wards and divisions for both the delayed elections of 2020, plus the scheduled elections of 2021, along with:

  • Directly elected Mayors from 2020 and 2021
  • Parish councils
  • By-elections
  • Neighbourhood Plan referenda
  • 40 Police and crime commissioner posts

There are about 5,000 council seats up for grabs across England.

The Welsh Government is also holding an election on May 6 2021.

Voters in Wales will cast their ballot for members of the Welsh Assembly and police and crime commissioners.

In Scotland, candidates are vying for 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament, also on May 6, 2021.

However, local government elections are not happening in Scotland until Thursday May 5, 2022.

There are no local elections taking place across Northern Ireland.

Its next assembly election is scheduled to take place in 2022, with local elections for NI's 11 councils following a year later in 2023.

The Big Issue wisely points out: "It’s an old adage that if you don’t vote you can’t complain.

"When polls open across England, Scotland and Wales on May 6, millions of us will cast our ballots for councillors, police and crime commissioners, parliamentarians, assembly members and directly elected mayors.

"These are people who have the power to get stuff done in our local areas and make changes to the things directly affecting our lives."

VOTING DURING THE PANDEMIC

As the postponed voting is taking place during the coronavirus pandemic, measures are in place "to protect against spread of disease and to overcome practical challenges," says the government.

Campaigning will be ongoing up until the elections on May 6, 2021.

Voters will continue to have access to three methods of voting:

  • In person at a polling station
  • By postal vote
  • By proxy vote

The government adds: "We are changing the rules for proxy voting to ensure that anyone who is self-isolating can request a proxy vote at the last minute – up to 5pm on polling day itself.

"Voting in person will still be available for all those who would like to, and there will be no change to the hours of polling."

Voters are encouraged to bring their own pens or pencils.

REGISTRATION

The deadline to register to vote is Monday April 19, 2021.

And to register for a postal vote, the deadline is:

  • 5pm on April 20 in both Wales and England
  • 5pm on April 6, in Scotland

The deadline to register for a proxy vote is 5pm on April 27.

Don't forget, you can register to vote online.

You must be aged 16 or over (or 14 or over in Scotland and Wales) to vote.

You must also be one of the following:

  • A British citizen
  • An Irish or EU citizen living in the UK
  • A Commonwealth citizen who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission
  • A citizen of another country living in Scotland or Wales who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission

You can vote when you’re 18 or over.

However, if you live in Scotland or Wales, you can vote in some elections when you’re 16 or older.

POLLING STATIONS

Polling stations will open at 7am and close at 10pm.

Details of where you need to go are on you polling card – which you should have received in the mail by now.

If you aren’t sure where it is, you can contact your local council to find out where you need to go.

To check to see if there are local elections in your area you can pop in your post code here.

Who is running?

With thousands of candidates running in the May 2021 elections it can be confusing to know who is standing in your area.

You can go here, to find out about the candidates in your area just by popping in your post code.

It will tell you if there are elections in your area – including the PCC ones – and it will provide a list of the candidates and the party they represent.

How to check if you can vote?

Contact your local Electoral Registration Office if you live in England, Scotland or Wales to check if you’ve already registered to vote.

Are there any councils to watch?

The delay of the 2020 local elections "means that these are the biggest local elections since 1973", writes the New Statesman.

The site is keeping an eye on the following local councils:

  • Tory-held Brentwood – The Conservatives (defending seven, attacking six) will lose its majority with the loss of only one seat.
  • Labour-held Bury – Labour hold 10 and is attacking seven (six Conservative, one Liberal Democrat)… "in a nightmarish night for Labour, the Conservatives could take this council or no overall control could be the outcome".
  • Cannock Chase, no overall control – This council has been described by the NS as "an interesting one. Staffordshire as a whole has been steadily moving away from the Labour party".
  • Tory-held Epping Forest – "Epping Forest is somewhere that could see Conservative gains in quite a big way… I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw big gains in places like this as a result," says the NS.

  • St Albans – Another council with no overall control.
  • Tory-held Thurrock – "This is gonna be a wild one," predicts the NS.
  • Maidstone and Milton Keynes – No overall control.
  • Labour-held Sandwell – "There ought to be some Tory gains here, and potentially some substantial ones," warns the NS.
  • Tory-held Solihull – "The Conservatives (defending nine, attacking eight) can lose control if they lose just one seat," says the website.
  • Stockport and Welwyn-Hatfield – No overall control.
  • Tory-held Swindon – "Should be a nail-biter," reckons the NS.

When will we know the results?

The first results will come between midnight and 1am on May 7.

However, some local authorities won’t start counting until 9am on May 7.

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