Thought For The Day – Thursday 4th May 2023
Today sees local elections take place in England and Northern Ireland. An election is a choice. Millions of people are expected to take part.
Over the years, so many millions more fought for the right to vote.
Giving the public a say in how a community and country is run, and being accountable to, and representing, the public is absolutely integral to, and definitive of, democracy.
These are the first council elections since 2019. Around 8,000 councillors are being elected in 230 councils, as voters choose who they want to run services in their local area. Voters in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough will also elect mayors.
Local government is important. Local councils are responsible for many public services, including: providing care for the elderly and disabled, schools, fixing potholes on some roads and collecting rubbish.
People have to be registered to vote beforehand. They then receiving a polling card, telling them where they can vote. People can vote in person at a local polling station (they are told where their nearest is by post). They can also vote by post or by nominating someone to vote on their behalf (a proxy).
This year, people need to take photographic identification to vote. Passports, driving licences, and older or disabled person’s bus passes are among the documents that will be accepted at polling stations. Those without the right identification could apply for a new free voter certificate, the deadline for which closed last week.
Voters (and proxies) must be: aged 18 or over, registered at an address in the area where they want to vote, a British citizen, an Irish or EU citizen or eligible Commonwealth citizen, not legally excluded from voting. It is illegal to take a photograph of a ballot paper or to reveal how someone voted.
Voters usually have one vote for each available seat in an election area (known as a ward or division). Large wards may have several seats. Whoever receives the most votes wins. Northern Ireland uses the single transferable vote (STV) system – where voters rank candidates in order of preference.
The polls open at 7 a.m. today and close at 10 p.m. Counting and checking will begin by diligent and trusted volunteers thereafter.