‘Strange but smooth’: Sheffield voters head to the polls in unique local election
Voters said it was strange but smooth as they headed to the polls for a unique local elections that involved Covid regulations and, for some, four different votes.
Wearing face masks and bringing their own pens or pencils, voters appeared to be turning out in numbers similar to pre-Covid local elections.
Lots of work was put into making stations as safe as possible by a team of around 1,300 elections staff and volunteers.
Polling booths were wiped down between voters, polling clerks were sat behind screens, windows and doors were open for ventilation and social distancing and mask signs were posted all around.
Kate Josephs, returning officer for Sheffield Council, visited several polling stations this afternoon and said the pattern of voters visiting stations was a bit different to normal, as more people were working from home.
Ms Josephs, who became the chief executive of the council in January, said: “I’ve found it amazing, the main thing has just been seeing the commitment, dedication and hard work that goes into running an election – it’s pretty humbling to be honest. We have a fabulous team at Sheffield. I’m sure many people who turn out to vote every year don’t stop to think what goes on behind the scenes, previously I don’t think I did, but it’s amazing to see and particularly this year with Covid.”
She added: “It’s really important that you use your democratic right, get out and use your vote and I want to really reassure people that we put so much effort into making sure polling stations are safe.”
Most voters were given three different ballot papers, which asked them to cross a box to decide on city council representatives, a police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire and the system by which the council is run.
Some voters in Ecclesfield were also asked to vote for parish councillors and those living in Broomhill, Broomfield, Endcliffe, Summerfield or Tapton also had a referendum on whether to adopt a neighbourhood plan.
Danny Anderson, Crookes and Crosspool ward voter, said: “It felt a bit strange walking in with everyone wearing masks and it was a little bit different to normal, I forgot my pencil so that wasn’t brilliant but other than that it was all pretty smooth.
“I was really disappointed with a lack of information in the run up, I had only one party canvass me, I didn’t have anything through the post at all about the change in how the council is run or anything at all about the police and crime commissioner. I found that really disappointing because it was impossible to make an informed decision.”
John Brennan, Weston Park ward voter, said: “It was fine, very straightforward still it’s not very crowded in there at all so it was good.”
Results for the city and parish councillor elections will be announced on Friday 7 May, and the results of the referendums and police and crime commissioner elections will be announced on Monday, 10 May.