South Tyneside Council is officially launching its new all postal voting and electronic counting system for the May local elections at a media event taking place tomorrow (Friday 12th April) on the steps of South Shields Town Hall.
As part of the information campaign, bright, colourful, banners and posters will be displayed on bridges, buildings and vehicles throughout the Borough heralding the new way of voting together with the helpline number.
South Tyneside is one of only four councils in the country where all postal voting and electronic counting is being introduced. The Government approved this pilot scheme as part of a drive to encourage more people to vote.
In a radical change to the traditional voting system this year there will be no polling stations, no poll cards and no traditional count. Ballot papers will be sent direct to all 115,384 registered voters between the 18th and 28th April. Each will have its own unique number and bar code and will be totally secret.
All that the voter needs to do is to fill it in and send it back in the pre-paid envelope together with a simple Declaration of Identity. All voters are being urged to return their postal votes as soon as possible. The final deadline for receipt of votes is 5.00pm on polling day THURSDAY MAY 2ND, but the last recommended day for posting is by Tuesday April 30th.
Postal votes can also be placed in a ballot box at one of six locations throughout the borough (South Shields Town Hall, Jarrow Town Hall, Hebburn Civic Centre, Landreth House, Horsley Hill Housing Office and East Boldon Library), but only until 5.00pm on polling day.
A special Election Helpline has now been set up to advise anyone who needs help or extra information about postal votes. The Helpline 0800 093 2660 is available throughout the election period from 8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday.
Information is also available in five other languages (Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi and Cantonese) and the Helpline can also be contacted by Typetalk.