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Postal Votes Return Tops 50 Per Cent

With one day still to go in the all-postal voting elections in South Tyneside more than 57,000 ballot papers have been returned putting the percentage of votes cast at over 50 per cent.

The 50 per cent return after the first week of the voting experiment is almost double the average overall turnout at previous Council elections in recent years. Election officials say the figures will rise even higher after tomorrow's count. Mr Chris Bradley, Returning Officer, said today: "We are delighted with the response with a return of over 50 per cent."

South Tyneside is one of only four Councils where an all-postal voting system and electronic counting of votes has been introduced as part of a Government pilot to encourage greater participation in elections.

The Electoral Commission is closely monitoring the postal voting system. It has already attracted regional and national TV coverage as well as other media coverage. It is being extensively promoted locally with a major advertising campaign.

All 20 wards in South Tyneside are contested in tomorrow's (May 2nd) Council elections. All 115,384, registered voters received their postal voting packs.

The last time for votes to be accepted is 5.00 p.m. tomorrow (THURSDAY MAY 2ND). Votes are being accepted during normal opening hours at South Shields Town Hall, Jarrow Town Hall, Hebburn Civic Centre, Horsley Hill Housing Office, Landreth House and East Boldon Library.

Anyone who needs any help with postal voting should contact the ELECTION HOTLINE TEL 0800 093 2660.

The official count for the eleven contested wards in the South Shields Parliamentary Constituency will be held at Temple Park Centre, John Reid Road, South Shields, and the official Count for the nine wards in the Jarrow Parliamentary Constituency will take place at Jarrow Community Centre.

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