A number of important changes to the way you vote will be introduced for the local elections in May. Firstly, if you vote by post, you should by now have received a letter from Gateshead Council asking you to re-apply, giving your date of birth. This change has been introduced because of electoral fraud cases in recent years in which people’s votes were stolen. The requirement now to put on your date of birth onto the return form will make fraud more difficult. The requirement to have a signature on your return form of a 2nd person will no longer be needed, though you will still have to sign the form yourself.
The need to have a record of people’s dates of birth is why postal voters have been asked to reapply. Previously, there was no need to collect this information.
Those opting to vote at a polling station will be able to vote early this year at a special polling station set up in Gateshead Civic Centre. Any voter from Gateshead will be able to vote from Monday 23rd April to Wednesday 22nd May though the times the polling booth will be open are yet to be decided.
The election count will now be held on Friday 4th May, the day after the election itself. This is because of the large number of postal votes now cast in an election, and the need to check the forms returned with them to ensure the correct date of birth has been included. The count is therefore expected to take much longer to ensure the checks take place.