Individuals who need to self-isolate because of coronavirus will still be able to vote in the local elections, following a planned amendment to emergency proxy voting rules published in Parliament.
The move is one of a number of measures the government is putting in place to allow for fair and COVID-secure participation in the upcoming council and mayoral elections in England, and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.
The legislation, which has been laid before Parliament, will allow anyone who is self-isolating due to COVID-19 to access an emergency proxy vote, up to 17:00 on election day.
Minister of State for the Constitution & Devolution, Chloe Smith, said:
“These elections can and will be delivered in a COVID-secure way and the extended proxy voting rules are a key part of this.
“The new rules will mean that voters who have tested positive for COVID-19, or are self-isolating, can still have their say in these elections without having to leave their home.”
The new legislation allows:
- All those who are unable to attend a polling station as a result of COVID-19, including those who are shielding, to appoint a proxy beyond the usual deadline.
- All those with an existing proxy arrangement to appoint a new proxy up until 17:00 on polling day if their proxy is affected by COVID-19 and are unable to act as a proxy.
On Friday 5 February, the government confirmed that the polls scheduled for 6 May 2021, including council and mayoral elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in England and Wales, will go ahead as planned.
The government has also published a Delivery Plan setting out guidance on how the polls will be delivered in a COVID-19 secure and effective way, which included preliminary changes to proxy voting rules. As usual, anyone can also secure a postal vote in advance of the May elections. The deadline for all postal voting applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 20 April. Anyone who wants to vote by post is encouraged to apply to do so as early as possible and not wait until the deadline.