The countdown has started in South Tyneside Council's new all postal voting system for the May 2nd local elections.
Ballot papers have been delivered direct to all 115,384 registered voters and the first returns have already been received.
South Tyneside is one of only four councils in the country where all postal voting and electronic counting is being introduced to encourage more people to vote.
With 58 candidates contesting seats in all 20 wards on the South Tyneside Council elections on THURSDAY MAY 2ND voters are asked to return their ballot papers by post instead of going to the traditional polling station.
All the voter has to do is mark the ballot paper with a black or blue pen or pencil and place it in a sealed envelope which is then placed in a prepaid return envelope together with a signed Declaration of Identity.
The double envelope system is very secure. Each ballot paper has a unique number and bar code. Election staff at South Shields Town Hall separate the Declarations and check that they match the sealed ballot paper which is then placed in a secure ballot box prior to the electronic count on THURSDAY MAY 2ND.
Mr Chris Bradley, Returning Officer, said today: "The first indications are that there has been a good level of response so far. Voters should return their ballot papers as soon as possible, making sure that they have included their signed Declaration of Identity in the return envelope. Votes received without the Declaration cannot be counted."
The last recommended date for returning postal votes is Tuesday April 30th. Votes can also be accepted at one of six Council office locations (South Shields Town Hall, Jarrow Town Hall, Hebburn Civic Centre, Landreth House, Horsley Hill Housing Office and East Boldon Library).
The last time for postal votes to be accepted is 5.00pm on THURSDAY MAY 2ND.
All votes will be taken to the two Election Count Centres (Temple Park Centre for the 11 wards in the South Shields constituency and Jarrow Community Centre for the nine wards in the Jarrow constituency.