South Tyneside Council is urging people to make sure they are registered to vote and to consider a postal vote this year as preparations are made for a safe Election Day.
On Thursday 6 May, voters in South Tyneside will go to the polls to elect local government councillors to represent them on South Tyneside Council and to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for the Northumbria area.
While the elections are a few months away, plans are well underway to help voters stay safe while casting their vote.
Anyone who is not registered to vote, or who has not applied to be added to the Electoral Register by the closing date of Monday 19 April 2021, will not be able to have their say on 6 May.
The Council's Elections Team is writing to all households to make sure those who are eligible to vote are registered in time and to encourage anyone not currently registered to vote by post to apply as soon as possible, with application forms included with the letter.
The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Tuesday 20 April. However, the Council is urging anyone who wants to vote by post to apply as soon as possible so their application can be processed early. This will enable the Council to start sending postal votes out once candidates are confirmed.
Once letters are received, residents are urged to check the names of those who are registered to vote at the address. If any names are not listed, or any of the printed details are incorrect, residents are urged to respond immediately, either online or by phone.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for democratic renewal, said: "The May elections are very important. They are an opportunity for residents to have their say on who represents them on issues that directly affect day to day life here in South Tyneside, from housing and education to leisure and waste management.
"The Police and Crime Commissioner Election also gives people a chance to vote for the person who will be accountable for how crime is tackled and how the service is provided in the Northumbria Police area.
"People must be registered to be able to vote. We would encourage residents to look out for their letters arriving, check the details and return the forms where necessary.
"Due to the ongoing risk of Covid-19 in our communities, we are encouraging people to consider voting by post this year. Applying for a postal vote will give voters the confidence to be able to take part in the 2021 elections no matter what the situation is with regards to coronavirus. Those that would like to vote by post should apply as soon as possible.
"We're also putting arrangements in place to help voters stay safe at the polling station, with measures to support the 'Hands, Face and Space' guidelines such as hand sanitisers, face masks and floor markings. People can also vote by proxy by appointing someone they trust to vote on their behalf.
"Whichever way residents choose to cast their vote, we are working to ensure they can do this safely."
Residents are reminded that the deadline to apply to register to vote in the May elections is Monday 19 April 2021.
Anyone not registered to vote at their current address will need to complete a registration application form online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote (using the information from their letter) or over the phone by calling the Council's Customer Contact Centre on (0191) 427 7000.
Post vote application forms will be included with the letter for each person listed who is not currently registered to vote by post. Postal vote applications must be received by the Elections Team by 5pm on Tuesday 20 April.
For further information contact South Tyneside Council's Electoral Team on (0191) 424 7230or email email@example.com
More details about electoral registration in South Tyneside is available on the Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/elections