Number of postal votes in Ipswich doubles as elections loom
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
More than twice the normal number of applicants have asked Ipswich council for postal votes this year.
And there are signs this could be start of a long-term switch to voting by mail for many people.
So far, a third of residents of the town have applied for postal votes for the May 6 poll - up from the 16% who have applied for postal votes for previous elections.
The vast majority have applied for postal votes for subsequent elections as well - meaning they will be sent postal ballots every year until they cancel the arrangement.
Borough council chief executive and returning officer, Russell Williams, said more than 31,000 postal votes would be sent out.
Of those, 29,000 would be going to people who have requested postal votes for elections in the future as well.
This year, there will be the same number of polling stations as normal across the town - 70 - but they will be in fewer locations, down from 60 to 42.
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Mr Williams explained: "We are unable to use schools and some other sites that cannot be made Covid-safe, like portable buildings, so we are increasing the number of places where we have more than one polling station in a location.
"For instance, we normally have a polling station at the Zoar Baptist Church, at St Clement's and at St Helen's schools. This year all three will be in different parts of the church."
But officials are expecting fewer people will be voting in person.
Mr Williams said: "In the last local elections, in May 2019, across the borough we had 60-65% of people with postal votes taking part in the election and about 20% of those who didn't turning out to vote in polling stations.
"We don't know what will happen this year - but I am expecting a much higher proportion of votes coming in by post."
Ipswich council sent postal voting application forms already filled in to every house on the electoral register last month in a bid to get as many people as possible to use that method and save themselves the trouble of travelling to a polling station.