Council chief's advice to first-time voters
Council bosses in South Tyneside are encouraging first-time voters to make sure they have their say at the ballot box.
With less than two weeks to go until the vote on May 5, new voters are being reminded to make sure they are ready to exercise their democratic right.
Across all wards 18 seats are being contested and there will also be an election for the post of Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for democratic renewal, said: “We want to make sure that everyone who is registered to vote knows how to cast their vote.
“People who have voted before will be familiar with the process but there will be first time voters, particularly among our young people who will be unsure about what to do.
“Every vote counts and we want everyone to feel comfortable and confident in exercising their right to vote.”
What voters need to know on Election Day:
* Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.
* Polling cards will 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;
* Leave plenty of time before the 10pm deadline. Those who arrive after 10pm will not be allowed to take part.
* Take the polling card with you to show polling station staff. They will still ask for you to confirm your name and address. If you don’t have it with you, tell the staff your name and address and they can check whether you are on the electoral register.
* Postal votes must also be returned by 10pm on Thursday 5 May;
* Those who have not had time to post it before polling day, can take it to the polling station on their polling card and hand it in. Again, the deadline is 10pm.
* Polling station staff will give you a ballot paper listing the candidates you can vote for;
* Disabled people can ask the Presiding Officer for help and they can mark the ballot paper for you.
* Those with 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. 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;
* If you make a mistake on the ballot paper - so long as you haven’t put it in the ballot box - let the polling station staff know and they can issue a replacement.
* Fold the completed ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box.
Ben Brook, Head of the Electoral Commission, English Regions, said: “A lot of people don’t know what to expect on polling day, especially if they haven’t voted before, but with so much information available online and through your local Electoral Services team, we hope everyone will be able to feel confident about casting their vote.”