Taken from Wokingham Borough News Centre

Local elections are taking place on Thursday 4 May, as well as town council elections in Earley, Wokingham and Woodley, and parish council elections in Winnersh.

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm and it is important you are ready to take part and have your say in who represents you.

Your poll card tells you when and where to vote and you must go to your allocated polling station. You do not need to take your polling card with you to vote, but you must take suitable photo ID, which is explained more later in this newsletter.

If you lose your poll card, you can still vote, but you need to give your name and address to the staff on duty. If you have lost your polling card and do not know where your polling station is, you can check your polling station out on our website.

Plan what time you will cast your vote at the polling station, leaving plenty of time before the 10pm deadline. If you are in a queue at 10pm, you will still be able to vote.

If you arrive at the polling station after 10pm, then the poll will be closed and you will have missed your chance to take part.

Remember to bring photo ID

This is the first time you will have to show photo ID to be able to vote as part of new legislation introduced by the Government last year. If you fail to turn up with suitable ID, you will not be issued with a ballot paper.

There are many forms of ID that are accepted, including:

  • Passport
  • Full or provisional driving licence
  • Blue badge
  • Certain concessionary travel cards, such as an older person’s bus pass or an Oyster 60+ card
  • Identity card with Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) mark
  • Biometric Immigration document
  • Defence identity card
  • Certain national identity cards

Expired ID will also be accepted, as long as you still look like the photograph on the document. Bringing your poll card by itself will not entitle you to vote.

A full list of accepted forms of ID is available on the Electoral Commission’s website, along with more information about the new requirement.

As part of the changes, those who do not have a suitable form of ID have had the opportunity to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate to show on polling day. However, the deadline to apply for one of these has now expired.

The seats being contested for

Our elections are done in thirds, with one seat being contested in 18 wards in 2023. There are a total of 25 wards in Wokingham Borough and so you may not receive a poll card if there are no elections where you live. You can find out which ward you live in on our website.

The wards involved in the borough council elections are: Barkham, Bulmershe & Whitegates, Coronation, Emmbrook, Evendons, Hawkedon, Hillside, Loddon, Maiden Erlegh, Norreys, Shinfield North, Shinfield South, Sonning, South Lake, Twyford, Wescott, Winnersh and Wokingham Without.

For this year’s elections, a total of 34 different polling places will be used. You can see a full list of all of the people standing in town, parish and borough elections on our website.

What to do when you vote

Once you have shown your photo ID, the staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the candidates you can vote for and they are on hand to provide advice on the voting process.

Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that nobody can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully, as it will tell you how to cast your vote. Do not write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.

Mark your ballot paper according to the instructions – a pencil will be provided for you to do this. Finally, fold your completed ballot paper in half and pop it in the ballot box.

Postal and proxy voting information

Postal voting:

  • If you have a postal vote, post your ballot back as quickly as possible to make sure it is counted
  • Mark your vote on your ballot paper in secret
  • Fill in the postal voting statement
  • Put the ballot and statement in the envelope provided
  • Seal the envelope yourself

If you have not had time to post it before polling day, then you can take it to your polling station on polling day and hand it in. Postal votes can be handed in to a polling station anywhere in your ward. Postal votes that arrive after 10pm will not be counted.

Proxy voting:

If you’ve appointed a proxy, then they need to make sure they are able to vote at the correct polling station on your behalf and they must have their photo ID with them. In certain circumstances, where you have an emergency that means you can’t vote in person, you can apply for an emergency proxy:

  • You have a medical emergency
  • You are away for work
  • Your photo ID is lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged

This must be something that you weren’t aware of before the normal proxy vote deadline.

You can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day. You should contact your local electoral registration office directly to ask about this.

Accessibility at polling stations

From these elections voters with disabilities will have access to extra assistance in polling stations.

You can bring anyone who is over the age of 18 to help you vote, or you can ask polling station staff for help to cast your vote.

Tactile voting devices, large print sample versions of the ballot paper and magnifiers will be available to help blind or partially sighted voters mark their ballot paper. You can also take your phone into the polling booth and use the magnifier, torch, or text- to-speech apps, to help you vote.

All polling stations will be accessible. Each polling station will have level access or an entry/exit ramp or a separate entrance, so that everyone can access it. Once inside, every polling station will have a wheelchair accessible polling booth.

All polling stations will also have easy-read guides about how to vote.

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