Surge in Ipswich postal vote applications

Russell Williams

Ipswich council chief executive Russell Williams has seen a 50% increase in postal vote applications. - Credit: David Garrad

The number of Ipswich residents who have applied for postal votes for this year's local elections has increased by about 50% so far - and new applications are still coming in.

Borough council chief executive and returning officer Russell Williams has written to every household on the electoral register urging people to apply for postal votes, and including a pre-filled application form.

The council already had 16,963 postal voters registered. Following the mailshot a further 8,737 have applied to vote by post - meaning that well over a quarter of the 99,469 registered electors will be voting by post in May's elections.

And more applications are still coming into the council every day.

Mr Williams said that the number of votes actually cast in the elections due to be held on May 6 would almost certainly be a much higher proportion than 25% - because those who had taken the trouble to apply for a postal vote would be more likely to vote.

He said: "I think it is fair to say that those who have signed and sent the form back to us are much more likely to then do the same when they are sent their ballot paper than people in general."

Local government elections generally attract a much lower turnout than general elections - and although this year is seen as a "super-election" with the Police and Crime Commissioner and county councillors up for election together with borough councillors in Ipswich, turnout is still not likely to be as high as on general election day.

In Ipswich all the political parties represented on the borough have backed Mr Williams' call for more people to register for postal votes.

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There are fears that Covid restrictions at polling stations could lead to some usual locations having to be closed in 2021 - and there are difficulties in finding enough people to staff the stations for up to 16 hours meeting a large number of strangers indoors.

The council is planning two more reminders for people to apply for postal votes - in their council tax bills and when polling cards are sent out for the election.


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