All voters in South Tyneside will be receiving a letter giving the latest details explaining arrangements for the new all postal voting system for this year's Council elections.
The letter will be delivered to each elector over the next three days and voters are being asked to pay particular attention to what they need to do if they will be away at the time of the election, or if they have recently changed address.
Anyone who will be away, or has recently moved but still wants to vote, should apply in writing by FRIDAY APRIL 12TH to the Election Office, Town Hall, Westoe Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE33 2RL.
In special circumstances voters may be able to appoint someone to vote for them, again this must be done in writing by 12th April.
South Tyneside is one of only 31 election pilot schemes in the country approved by the Government as part of the drive to encourage more people to vote. It is one of only four where all postal voting and electronic counting are being introduced.
There will be no polling stations, and no poll cards will be issued. Instead each voter will receive a postal vote between Thursday April 18th and Thursday April 25th. It will be accompanied by clear information on how to use it.
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.
Each postal vote will have its own unique number and bar code and it will be kept totally secret.
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.
Anyone who wishes to place their postal vote in a ballot box can do so 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).
The experimental switch to all postal voting is designed to encourage more people to vote without having to go to a polling station. A bigger than usual poll is expected.
Anyone who needs help or extra information about postal votes should contact the special Election Helpline which is being set up.
The Election Helpline 0800 093 2660 will be available throughout the election period from Monday April 8th (8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday).
Information is also available in six other languages (Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi and Cantonese) and the Helpline can also be contacted by Typetalk.
During the build up to the election a massive publicity and advertising campaign is being mounted on South Tyneside to make sure that everyone is aware of the new postal voting system to elect councillors.