April 22, 2021 5.05 pm This story is over 36 months old

Lincolnshire councils prepare for COVID-19 safe elections

Offices filled with PPE supplies

Thousands of items of personal protection equipment are being stored at councils across Lincolnshire as officers ramp up preparations ahead of the local elections.

It will be a very different situation when residents vote on May 6. The county’s polling stations will have hand sanitiser on arrival, voters will be asked to wear face coverings and socially distance while staff and volunteers will be situated behind plastic screens for protection.

People will be asked to bring their own pens where possible, though some will be available, and a one-in, one-out system will be used.

Council bosses, however, have said there will not be any detrimental impact over the changes.

Graham Watts, elections manager at City of Lincoln Council, said the changes were no different to the kinds of things you’d find in a supermarket currently.

“I’m very confident that it’ll be an efficient visit to the polling station and we can get people through as we would normally relatively quickly,” he said.

The significant investment required for the preparations will be funded, once tallied, by central government grant funding.

The timing for this year’s local elections will include:

  • Thursday, May 6 – Voting takes place from 7am to 10pm
  • Thursday night – Votes are verified ahead of the count and transferred to the Assembly Rooms
  • Friday morning – County council votes will be counted and announced
  • Friday afternoon – City council votes will be counted and announced
  • Saturday – Votes for the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner will be counted

Screens have been set up for staff, postal votes will be opened and verified in this room.

Graham reassured residents that votes will be locked in a safe environment until they are counted and will be monitored 24-7 to ensure they cannot be tampered with.

It’s not just the safety precautions around polling stations either, some locations have changed in order to provide bigger premises, but restrict the use of schools.

“We tend to use quite a few schools in Lincoln and across the county as well,” said Graham.

“[There’s an] issue in terms of trying not to impact education any further than it’s already been impacted this year, so in Lincoln, we’ve had to be quite innovative.”

A list of the items in one box of PPE.

For instance, the Ian Shammon showroom, on Boultham Park, along with other local businesses will play their part in the election this year.

Postal votes are starting to arrive now as well, and so far, Graham said there had been an increase but not in the numbers they had expected yet.

More local elections coverage here