Oxfordshire’s political parties urge postal vote usage during ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

Oxfordshire’s political parties have been promoting the postal vote, as the Government has confirmed an extra £31m funding to make local elections Covid-safe this year.
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Councillors have begun their campaigning for this year’s elections, with seats being contested on Oxford City Council, the district councils in West Oxfordshire and Cherwell, and Oxfordshire County Council. Ahead of this, local leaders are stressing the importance of postal votes.

Tom Hayes, deputy leader of Oxford City Council and a Labour councillor, said: “It will relieve pressure on our polling stations which means they will be able to keep people safe. You won’t just be doing your civic duty by voting, you will also be doing your civic duty by voting safely and in a way that limits the spread of coronavirus.”

Conservative county council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “We are encouraging everyone to use postal votes because that is the safest way to vote: You can vote from home and if you register now it will give plenty of time for our returning officers to prepare and process so you get that vote in advance of the election and can return in in a secure manner.”

Local local leaders across Oxfordshire are stressing the importance of postal votes ahead of the upcoming electionLocal local leaders across Oxfordshire are stressing the importance of postal votes ahead of the upcoming election
Local local leaders across Oxfordshire are stressing the importance of postal votes ahead of the upcoming election

Lib Dem leader on Oxford City Council, Andrew Gant, said: “Voting by post is safe and simple. I’d encourage everyone who wants to be able to vote in the elections to apply for one.

“It is important that nobody loses their opportunity to have their say because of any fear that voting in person might not be safe this May.”

Green Oxford City Cllr Craig Simmons said his party would be distributing postal voting information to electors in the city.

Mr Simmons said: “The Greens have been working with the elections office at Oxford City Council to understand how we can best help to get the word out about postal voting.

“We have agreed on a version of the PV application form that we can distribute to residents once leafleting restrictions have been lifted.

“For the first time, this includes wording that encourages people to photograph signed forms and return by email.

“Note that we are not only distributing to known Green voters – but to everyone. Our focus is on ensuring fair elections.”

The BBC reported the Government has now confirmed an extra £31m to be spread out among local councils to make polling stations Covid-secure for those who want to vote in person.

People will be encouraged to bring their own pens, booths will be regularly cleaned, and wearing masks while ticking the ballot paper will be mandatory.

For those who are unable to vote in person, or who would prefer to use another means there are two options for absentee ballots.

The first is postal voting, and the second is proxy voting where someone nominates a trusted friend or relative to vote on their behalf.

Apply for a postal vote at gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-voteApply for a proxy vote at gov.uk/government/collections/proxy-voting-application-forms