With just more than one week to go, voters in South Tyneside are reminded to make sure they are ready to vote on Election Day.
Voters will go to the polls on Thursday 23 May to elect 3 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to represent the North East region,.
Across South Tyneside, there are 114,615 eligible voters and 80 polling stations will be open.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Deputy Leader at South Tyneside Council, said: "Putting a cross in a box may seem simple, but there are a number of things voters need to consider in order to be ready for the European election.
"Many people will have voted before and will be familiar with the process. However there will be some first time voters, particularly among young people who will be unsure about what to do. Every single vote counts therefore we want everyone to feel comfortable and confident in exercising their right to vote and having their say.
"We would encourage people to consider the information and guidance available about the voting process beforehand so they know what to do."
What voters need to know before Election Day:-
- Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 23 May. (Voters had to have applied to register to vote by 7 May in order to be able to vote on the day.)
- Polling cards have been sent to the addresses of registered voters. The cards give details of the location of their polling station. Voters can only vote at the polling station on their own poll card;
- Plan when to cast your vote and leave plenty of time before the 10pm deadline. Those who arrive at their polling station after 10pm will miss their chance to take part.
- Make sure postal votes are returned by 10pm on Thursday 23 May;
- Those who have not had time to post it before polling day, can take it to any polling station in South Tyneside and hand it in. Postal votes that arrive after 10pm on 23 May will not be counted.
- If you have appointed a proxy, then they need to make sure they are able to vote at your polling station on your behalf;
- If you suddenly become unable to vote in person, due to a medical emergency or because your occupation, service or employment means you cannot go to the polling station, and you only become aware of that fact after the deadline, then you may be entitled to appoint an emergency proxy;
- You can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day. Contact South Tyneside Council's Elections Team direct about this, on (0191) 424 7230.
- Just yourself;
- You can take the poll card with you to show polling station staff when you arrive. They will still ask for you to confirm your name and address. If you don't have your poll card with you, just tell the polling station staff your name and your address and they can check whether you are on the electoral register.
- Social media is a great way to let your friends and family know you have voted and to encourage them to do the same. So use Twitter, Facebook and any other social media accounts you have to get the message out there;
- Remember, pictures of you before you go into or after you leave the polling station are great to use on social media posts but don't take a picture of yourself inside the polling station as if you post this it could be a breach of the law.
- How to fill in the ballot paper:
- The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the parties or individual candidates you can vote for;
- Staff will be on hand at the polling station to provide advice on the voting process;
- Those who are disabled can ask the Presiding Officer for help and they can mark the ballot paper for you. You can also ask someone else to help you (e.g. a close relative or a friend or support worker, who is an eligible elector);
- Those who have a visual impairment can ask for a large print ballot paper or for a special voting device that allows them to vote on their own in secret;
- Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully. It will tell you how to cast your vote. Do not write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted;
- Mark the ballot paper according to the instructions. A pencil will be provided in the polling booth and pens are also available from the Presiding Officer, but some people may prefer to use their own pen;
- If you make a mistake on your ballot paper, don't worry. So long as you haven't already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can issue you with a replacement ballot paper;
- Fold your completed ballot paper in half and pop it in the ballot box - and that's it done!
Melanie Davidson, Head of Support and Improvement at the Electoral Commission, said: "Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 23 May. Voters who have opted to vote by post must return their postal ballot pack by 10pm and can hand it in at any polling station in South Tyneside if they don't have time to return it by post."
For more information about elections in South Tyneside, and a list of parties and individual candidates in the North East region on 23 May, visit South Tyneside Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/elections or call South Tyneside Council's Elections Team on (0191) 424 7230.
Further details about the voting process is available at www.yourvotematters.co.uk