Thousands of residents across Derbyshire will be going to the polls on Thursday 6 May to cast their vote in the Derbyshire County Council election.
The election will have an array procedures in place at polling stations to allow for social distancing and Covid prevention, with voters needing to bring their own pen and pencil and mandatory face coverings.
Voters are being encouraged to vote by post, for which residents will need to register for in plenty of time. Thousands of residents have already done so due to the ongoing risk of Covid-19.
An upsurge in postal voting is likely to see the election count process take longer than usual, with results expected throughout the afternoon on Friday, May 7, instead of in the earlier hours.
Some regular polling stations may change due to the need for social distancing and adequate ventilation.
Derbyshire County Council has 64 seats, or divisions – with the Conservative Party currently in control of the authority since 2017, holding a majority with 36 seats.
The Labour Party is the main opposition party with 24 seats on the council, while the Liberal Democrats hold three seats.
There is one vacant seat, the Staveley division, which had been held by Labour.
Whichever party holds the majority of seats after the election will remain in power for another four years. If none of the parties holds a majority of the 64 seats up for grabs, parties can work together to form a coalition.
A total of 10 Labour councillors are not standing for re-election, including the group and county’s former leader, Cllr Anne Western, who represents the Barlborough and Clowne division.
A number of Conservative councillors are not seeking re-election but the party has not responded to say how many, this article will be updated if the party responds.
All sitting Lib Dem councillors are seeking re-election.
The county council covers all of Derbyshire apart from Derby City, which has its own election this year. There is also an election for the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, which was postponed from last year due to the pandemic.
Derbyshire County Council is responsible for childrens’ and adults’ social care – including care homes and children’s homes, libraries, road maintenance, bus services, waste and recycling services (but not bin collections), street lighting, schools and public health.
Check out the answers to these election questions:
Q: When is the deadline to register to vote?
A: This is on April 19.
You can register to vote by:
filling in an online form by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
requesting and filling in a paper version and posting it
over the phone by calling the council
You will need your National Insurance number available and although you can register to vote aged 16 or 17 but you cannot vote until you are 18. If you have registered to vote previously, you do not need to re-register unless you have moved house or changed your name.
Q: What happens if I have missed that deadline?
A: Then you will not be able to vote in the election on Thursday, May 6
Q: How will I know where I can vote?
A: You will be sent a polling card before the election takes place if you are entitled to vote in it. This will tell you the date of the election, your local polling station and polling hours, which are 7am to 10pm.
Q: How do I apply to vote by post and what happens next?
A: Everyone who is registered to vote may apply for a postal vote instead of voting in a polling station. This can be a permanent arrangement or just for one election. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, April 20 at 5pm.
To apply for a postal vote visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/
If you applied in time, once you receive your postal vote (usually 10 working days before an election) you need to complete it and make sure the council receives it by 10pm on election day for it to count
If you have applied to vote by post or vote by proxy, you will be sent a postal vote pack or proxy polling card before the election takes place.
Q: How do I apply to vote by proxy?
A: You can nominate a person, known as the proxy, to vote on your behalf at your local polling station or by post.
Download an application to vote by proxy form at https://www.derby.gov.uk/
To qualify for a proxy vote the proxy and the elector must be successfully registered to vote.
Q: What’s the last date to apply for a proxy vote before an election?
A: This is Tuesday, April 27.
Q: What if I have a medical emergency or I am called away for work reasons before the election day and can’t vote?
A: If this happens, you might be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote. Download an application form to vote by application to vote by proxy (emergency) or contact the council.
The council must receive the application no later than 5pm on the election day. For medical emergency applications this must be supported and signed by a registered medical practitioner, a registered nurse or Christian Science practitioner.
If you are in a residential home or sheltered housing, the matron, home care director or warden can support your application. A work emergency application will need to be supported by your employer.
Q: Who can vote on my behalf?
A: Anyone can be your proxy as long as they qualify to vote in UK elections and are willing to vote on your behalf.
A person cannot be a proxy for more than two people at any one election – unless they are a close relative – the law defines this as husband/wife, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son or daughter or grandson/daughter.
Contact the county council or local district or borough council if you want to confirm that someone can qualify to be your proxy.
Q: What is a polling station?
A: On election day, voters will visit one of the many polling stations across the county. Polling stations in Derbyshire are usually based in community locations such as community centres, schools and other public buildings. When you receive your poll card it will tell you which polling station to attend on the day. All polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm.
Polling stations are run by presiding officers and poll clerks to ensure that everything runs smoothly and legally.
Q: Will my normal polling station be in use?
A: Check the location of your polling station before setting off as you may need to go to a different place to vote this year. You can check this on your poll card or at wheredoivote.co.uk You must vote at your polling station – you cannot vote at another station.
Q: What will be different in my polling station?
You must not attend the polling station if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or have been asked to self-isolate due to a positive test or contact tracing. You can still cast your vote by applying for an emergency proxy before 5pm.
A face covering must be worn inside the polling station unless you are exempt.
Please bring a pen or pencil to mark the ballot paper. Pencils will also be available in the polling station and will be sanitized after each use.
There will be restrictions on the number of voters admitted to a station at any one time.
Social distancing will be enforced while queuing and throughout the voting process. Please adhere to any one-way systems, floor markings, signage, and any instructions from polling station staff.
Hand sanitizer will be provided upon entry and exit of the polling station. Voting booths, pencils, door handles and frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned regularly.
There will be a clear perspex screen to protect staff and voters at each voting table
These measures may mean you have to queue or wait for longer than usual to be able to cast your vote. Try to avoid busy times if you can, like before and after work, after the school run and lunchtime.
Q: What happens when the election day ends?
A: Ballot papers are counted – usually through the night or during the next day. This year, Derbyshire County Council is counting from 10am on Friday, May 7, the day after the election and announcing results through the afternoon. Once the counts are verified and announced by each district, the council posts the election results.
We will be covering the local election news throughout the weeks leading up to May 6 and we will also be covering the results as they happen after the polls close.