Election day in Falkirk: Wear a mask and bring your own pencil

Wear a mask and bring your own pencil is the advice for Falkirk voters when they go to the polls on Thursday, May 6 to elect their representatives in the Scottish Parliament.

With a total electorate of 61,709 in Falkirk East and 63,602 in Falkirk West, it has been a challenge to allow people to vote safely - and they will notice some differences when they go to the polls.

However, chief executive and returning officer, Kenneth Lawrie, says he is confident months of planning will minimise any risks - not just for voters, but also for around 350 staff who will be working across 65 polling places and 100 more working at the count centre.

All of the area's polling places have been risk assessed to ensure there is space for social distancing and, where space is limited, mobile units are being used.

Pic: TSPL

The measures mean the number of staff who count the ballot papers has been reduced, so the counting will be done over two days, with Falkirk East votes counted on Friday, May 7, and Falkirk West's on Saturday, May 8.

Both will take place in Grangemouth Sports Complex, starting at 9am, and constituency results are expected mid to late afternoon.

Kenneth Lawrie, Falkirk Council

Mr Lawrie said: "Voters will notice some changes when they visit their polling station for this election in order to ensure their safety as well as that of the staff working there.

"Measures such as sanitisers, floor screens and social distancing will all be in place and voters should be reassured that everything has been done to minimise any risks.

"This is the first election we have run during a pandemic so extra vigilance has been put into the extensive planning we have been carrying out for several months.

"Our trained staff are there to help on the day and will take anyone through the process if they are unsure.

"Continuing with the democratic process during Covid-19 is important and we are confident our plans will ensure that this is a well-run election on May 6.”

Candidates, agents and political party representatives will be present at both counts to observe the proceedings as well as local and national media.

Many people have already chosen not to risk going out to the polling stations at all as the numbers who are using a postal vote have doubled.

More than 25,000 residents have registered to vote by post - an increase of nearly 12,000 from the last election.

The count for the regional list candidates will take place in North Lanarkshire.

What will look different?

Voters are encouraged to bring their own pens/pencils but disposable ones will be available.

You may have to queue at polling places as numbers will be restricted.

There will be clear signage inside and out the polling places reminding voters of COVID-19 rules.

Masks should be worn when inside the polling place unless you are exempt.

Hand sanitisers and protective screens will also be in place. Staff will periodically wipe down public areas.

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