My polling station: how to find where to vote in 2021 local elections by postcode – and opening times

Where you need to go to vote on polling day may have changed from previous elections to accommodate public health measures

Voters will go to the polls across Great Britain today (6 May), including in parliamentary elections taking place in Scotland and Wales, local elections in England, and in London for Mayor and the London Assembly.

It’s a day that’s being dubbed “Super Thursday” due to the bumper crop of votes that will be on the ballot paper, with many elections postponed from last May because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Considered one of the largest tests of political opinion outside of a general election in recent years, both the future of the Labour Party and the state of the Union are among the issues at play.

There is a bumper crop of votes on the ballot paper, with many elections postponed from last May because of the Covid-19 pandemic (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)There is a bumper crop of votes on the ballot paper, with many elections postponed from last May because of the Covid-19 pandemic (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
There is a bumper crop of votes on the ballot paper, with many elections postponed from last May because of the Covid-19 pandemic (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

But just where should you be going when you want to cast your vote, and how does it all work in the age of Covid-19?

Here is everything you need to know about finding your polling station.

How do I find my polling station?

The Electoral Commission’s director of communications, Craig Westwood, has said it is important that voters are able to access “reliable and accurate information” at a time when, because of the pandemic, elections would be “a little different”.

(Image: NationalWorld)(Image: NationalWorld)
(Image: NationalWorld)

“For instance, their polling station might have changed from previous elections to accommodate the public health measures that will be in place,” he said.

On the Commission’s website, voters are able to enter their postcode and find what elections are taking place in their area and where their polling station is.

If you do not have access to the internet, details of your polling station will be clearly printed on the poll card that should have been posted through your day in recent weeks.

If you are still having trouble, contact your local council authority.

What Covid measures will be in place?

Some £31 million has been made available to authorities this year to make elections more Covid-secure, such as for installing plastic screens and providing hand sanitiser.

"Voters can expect to see many of the measures we’ve all become used to over recent months in banks, shops and other indoor spaces,” says Electoral Commission guidance, “such as hand sanitiser, floor markings and face coverings.”

There may also be ‘greeters’ on hand to control queues and manage entry to the station for social distancing purposes, as well as to encourage voters to abide by the public health measures in place, such as the wearing of face coverings.

These greeters should also be able to answer any questions about what to expect inside the venue.

What do I need to take with me?

Unlike previous elections, for this vote, the public are being encouraged to bring their own pen or pencil to the polling station as an extra precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19.

However, if you forget to bring your own stationary, don’t panic. Polling stations are being advised to ensure they have a spare stock of single-use or ‘cleaned’ pencils available to provide for use where needed.

You don’t need your poll card or ID to vote.

Will I need to give my contact details for test and trace?

The UK Government has confirmed that there will be no test and trace requirement to record the contact details of those entering a polling station for the purposes of voting.

This is true even where the polling station is located in a building where it would usually be required, such as a pub.

What if I am shielding?

Government guidance ahead of the polls also encourages anyone who is shielding, or does not wish to attend a polling station, to apply for postal or proxy votes.

However, the deadline for applications has now passed.

What are the opening times of polling stations?

Polling stations opened at 7am across Great Britain.

Polling stations will close on Thursday at 10pm.

You will be allowed to vote as long as you are in the queue before closing time.

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When will results be ready?

Estimated declaration times have always come with a warning they could be taken only as a rough guide and were subject to change in the light of new information.

However, in the case of the May 2021 elections, they have been very difficult to produce because of the circumstances of the pandemic, as authorities are unsure how long it will take to count votes while keeping to social distancing requirements.

In February, Michael Gove said the results “will be a little bit later than we might normally have expected” to ensure the safety of staff at counts.

Declarations times will vary from area to area, with some saying that results will be known from Friday evening, while others may take a few days longer; although voting ends at 10pm on Thursday, the final results are not expected until Monday.

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