How do I vote in local elections 2021? If you need to register - and where to find your polling station

Millions of people will have an opportunity to cast their votes in May, with thousands of seats up for grabs

The local elections are just days away, with candidates and activists now in full campaign mode across the country.

Thousands of council seats are up for re-election, with contests in almost every region in the country, from local authority seats to mayoral offices.

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So what are the local elections, when do they take place, and how do I vote?

Local elections 2021: how to vote in the UK local council elections - and do you need ID?  (Photo by Graeme Robertson/Getty Images)
Local elections 2021: how to vote in the UK local council elections - and do you need ID? (Photo by Graeme Robertson/Getty Images)

When are the local elections?

The 2021 local elections in England and Wales will take place on 6 May, with council seats, mayoral offices and Police and Crime Commissioner positions up for grabs all over the country.

As well as local government elections, devolved parliamentary elections will also be taking place in Scotland and Wales on the same date.

There is also a parliamentary by-election taking place in Hartlepool, after the sitting Labour MP, Mike Hill, resigned earlier this year.

How do I vote?

If you are registered to vote in the UK and there are elections in your area, you will be able to cast at least one vote next month.In some parts of the country people will be able to vote in several elections simultaneously, such as in Hartlepool, where residents will be eligible to vote for the borough council, parliamentary seat, Tyne Tees mayor and the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner.

To find out about the elections in your area, you can enter your postcode on the Electoral Commission’s website.

The deadline to register to vote has now passed, but if you’ve voted in a previous election and your details are unchanged since, you will be registered to vote this time.

To check this, you can get in touch with your local authority - if you’re unsure which authority to contact you can enter your postcode on the government’s website to find out.

To vote you will need to either attend a polling station in person, or complete a mail-in ballot, if you have applied for a postal vote.

There is also the option to have someone vote for you if you’ll be unable to attend on the day, using what’s called a proxy vote.You must apply for a proxy vote six working days in advance, meaning the deadline for the 6 May elections was 5pm today on 27 April.

If you require an emergency proxy vote after this date, because you need to self-isolate due to Covid, details will be made available on how to do this on the government’s website, once the standard deadline has passed.

Where is my polling station?

If you are registered to vote, you should receive a poll card with your details on it through the post, which will tell you which polling station to attend on polling day.

If you lose the polling card, you can still vote, but you’ll need to find out which polling station you’re assigned to, as you’ll only be able to vote at that one.All polling stations will be open between 7am and 10pm on election day.

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland you do not need to bring any identification to vote, and you don’t need to take your poll card with you.

Voting in person and Covid-19

Social distancing measures will be in place at polling stations, and if possible you should bring your own pencil to vote.

There are a number of rules for voting in person during the pandemic.

According to the government’s website, you must:

Wear a face covering (unless you’re exempt) Bring your own pen or pencil (there will be clean pencils available at the polling station if you forget to bring your own) Use the hand sanitiser provided when entering and leaving the polling station Keep to social distancing guidelines