Thousands of Ipswich residents have already voted in election

Ipswich election count

Ipswich elections may be two weeks away, but many votes have already been sent in. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Campaigners are continuing to look for votes in next month's local elections in Ipswich - even though as many as half may have already been cast after postal votes were sent out.

Ipswich council has sent out more than 30,000 postal votes to just under 31% of the town's electorate - and many are expected to already be on their way back to the borough.

That is about 10% down on the number who used postal votes last year when there was still concern about high Covid rates and not so many people had been vaccinated.

But many people who applied for them last year ticked a box on the form to continue getting postal votes after they found it was so convenient.

This move has prompted political parties to start their campaigning early.

Ipswich Labour

Labour campaigners in Whitton - the campaign has already been going for several weeks. - Credit: Ipswich Labour Party

Ipswich council's Labour leader David Ellesmere said: "We are aware that a lot of people are voting early by post so we have made sure that all homes in the town have had at least one leaflet early in the campaign to make sure they get our message.

"It does say on the electoral roll who has a postal vote and if we speak to those people now we check that they have sent that in - it is important to keep on getting the message across."

The Conservative opposition has also started campaigning earlier as more homes are being sent postal votes.

Ipswich Conservatives

Ipswich Conservatives in north west Ipswich were joined by local MP Dr Dan Poulter on the campaign trail. - Credit: Ipswich Conservatives

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Group leader Ian Fisher said: "We used to build up during the campaign and concentrate on getting the message across towards polling day - but now we do a lot more at the start of April because we know many people vote early."

But he did have concerns about the number of people who were sent postal votes but ended up not using them.

Research has shown that people who have applied for postal votes are much more likely to use them than the population as a whole - so although less than a third of voters have applied for postal votes they could ultimately make up about half the total number cast in this year's election.

Ipswich is the only place in Suffolk to have elections on May 5. 17 seats are up for grabs in the borough - 15 wards have one councillor up for election and St John's Ward has two because there is also a by-election there.