Security guards and sanitised pencils – How Londoners will vote for a new Mayor

The business of electing a new mayor is obviously vital for the future of our city.

But how on earth do you go about holding an election during a pandemic?

The scenes on polling day on May 6 will certainly be very different to those in 2016 when Sadiq Khan triumphed.

But how are the election officials going to get more than six million people voting without contaminating each other?

Postponed election

Currently Londoners are due to go to the polls on May 6 to vote for the Mayor of London and 25 London Assembly members. They will have three ballot papers, one for the Mayor, one for the constituency London Assembly member and one for a pan-London Assembly member.

The count will happen the following day and may spread over two days to ensure social distancing.

The election was postponed from May 7 last year because of lockdown after emergency legislation was passed. Normally the elections are held every four years.

In December 2020 6.09m Londoners were registered to vote.

Postal voting

And many more voters than usual are expected to apply for a postal vote this year to avoid social contact. The deadline to apply for a postal vote or a postal proxy vote is April 20.

Because of this, pandemic officials are drawing up strict safety rules to help keep voters and staff safe.

The election team at Kensington and Chelsea Council says it plans to restrict the number of voters at any polling station to a maximum of four or five.

Returning officer and council chief executive Barry Quirk predicted staff will need to manage queues outside more than 30 proposed polling stations at schools, libraries, churches and even a hotel.

Dr Quirk said: “A maximum of four or five inside may simply create issues in the street outside.”

Other measures include:

  • Lateral flow tests for polling station staff before the polls open.
  • Using a guard to manage the number of voters in the building as well as making sure there is an orderly queue outside.
  • Designing posters to let voters know what to expect.
  • Using one way and “circulation routes” to make people safe.
  • Wipes and gels for tables where staff are working
  • Disposable masks for residents who turn up without masks.
  • without masks
  • Signs to remind staff and residents to wash hands regularly

Sanitised pencils

Polling stations will also get a carousel and double polling booth to ensure social distancing. Staff will also have PPE.

There will also be meet and greeters to remind people of social distancing.

Voters will use hand gel when they come into the polling station before they can cast their vote.

And the council will stock up on an “adequate supply” of pencils for voters to mark that all important cross on their polling card.

This year though there will be a container with ‘clean’ pencils and another for ‘used’ pencils that will be sanitised and replaced.

Dr Quirk pointed out that the Government said it plans to remove the need for people who are self-isolating and need an emergency proxy vote to get their doctor or employer to provide evidence.

Who can I vote for and how?

The London mayoral candidates are as follows:

Sadiq Khan – Labour

Shaun Bailey – Conservative

Sian Berry – Green Party

To vote in the next Mayor of London and London Assembly elections you must:

  • be registered to vote
  • live in London
  • be at least 18 years old on the day of the elections
  • be a British citizen, a European Union citizen or a Commonwealth citizen who has or does not require leave to remain in the UK

You can register to vote online here

If you have a story for us, please email julia.gregory@reachplc.com

My London – Local News