On Thursday 6 May 2021 residents in Reading Borough will go to the polls to have their say on who represents them at Local Borough Elections, Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, and Peppard Ward.
The elections will take place at a time when Covid-19 continues to present risks to public health. Depending on the infection rate, measures taken to control the spread of the virus may change as we approach May. This means we cannot currently answer all the questions you may have about how the election will be run. However, we are working hard with central government, the Electoral Commission, the wider electoral community and public health authorities to help ensure you can stay safe when casting your vote in May.
We will update this page with further information as it becomes available. Further information can also be found on the website of the Electoral Commission.
This page was last updated on 28/04/2021
The deadline to apply to register to vote was midnight on Monday 19 April 2021. This deadline has now passed – all applications received after this date will be processed after the elections.
Postal and postal proxy applications must be received by the Electoral Registration Office by 5pm on Tuesday 20 April (including changes to existing postal, proxy and postal proxy votes). This deadline has now passed – applications received after this date will be processed after the elections.
Proxy applications must be received by the Electoral Registration Office by 5pm on Tuesday 27 April 2021. This deadline has now passed – applications received after this date will be processed after the elections.
To help get important applications to us Royal Mail have several priority postboxes, and these have later collection times including weekends. To take advantage of this enhanced collection service please see the priority postbox section on the Royal Mail website.
On Thursday 6 May, residents in Reading will be voting for Local Borough Elections and Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. These elections will be held in May 2021 after being postponed in May 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
There are a number of ways to have your say in May – you can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf, known as a proxy vote.
Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm
You don’t need your poll card to vote.
If you don’t have your poll card, you can go to the polling station and give them your name and address. you don’t need any other form of ID.
If you haven’t received a polling card but think you should have, please contact us to check your registration on 0118 937 3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for applying to register to vote was midnight on Monday 19 April 2021. This deadline has now passed so any applications received after this date will be processed after the election.
If you are already registered you do not need to re-register to vote.
To vote in any election in the UK, you must be registered to vote. It takes 5 minutes to register and you can do this online.
If you’re unable to register online, you can apply by post. You can download and print a postal vote application form or request for a form to be sent to you by ringing us on 0118 937 3717 or email: Elections@reading.gov.uk
In some cases, we may require more evidence from you. This is when we have been unable to confirm your identity, which we are required to do by law in order to process your application to register.
If this happens, we will let you know and request further evidence. Until we receive this evidence we will be unable to add you to the electoral register.
Please provide a copy rather than the original document. You can submit your evidence in two ways:
Postal and postal proxy applications deadline was 5pm on Tuesday 20 April 2021 including for changes to existing postal, proxy and postal proxy votes. This deadline has now passed so any applications received after this date will be processed after the election.
Proxy application deadline is 5pm on Tuesday 27 April 2021.
To then apply to vote by post you need to download, print and fill in a postal vote application form or request for a form to be sent to you by ringing us on 0118 937 3717 or email: Elections@reading.gov.uk. Once you have completed the form and signed it, you need to send it to the Reading Borough Council Electoral Services team either via email at: Elections@reading.gov.uk or via post: Reading Borough Council, Electoral Services, Civic Offices, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 2LU.
If you’re thinking about voting by post, you can apply to do this now. This will make sure your application is processed early, and your postal vote can be sent to you more quickly once the candidates for the elections are confirmed.
If you aren’t able to cast your vote in person, you can ask someone you trust to cast your vote for you. This is called a proxy vote and the person casting your vote is often referred to as your proxy. The person voting on your behalf can either go to your polling station to cast your vote, or can apply to vote for you by post.
Proxy application deadline is 5pm on Tuesday 27 April 2021. This deadline has now passed – applications received after this date will be processed after the elections.
We do not make up and send postal vote packs from our office, they are made up and sent by our printing company and we have just two scheduled mailings.
Poll cards: 31 March 2021 and 27 April 2021 (NB you do not need a poll card to vote)
Postal and postal proxy packs: 19 April 2021 and 26 April 2021
Please note if you have a postal vote in place by 21 March 2021, your postal vote pack will be sent to you on or around 19 April 2021.
If you apply for a postal vote after 22 March 2021, your postal vote pack will be sent to you on or around 26 April 2021.
However, it cannot be guaranteed that they will be delivered then. Although they will be sent first class, there is also no guarantee that they will be delivered the day after they have been posted. Therefore, if you are going away and the postal papers are due to be sent to your home address you may need to consider changing that arrangement to be on the safe side.
Yes, voting by post is safe and proven cases of electoral fraud are rare. When voting by post, you should mark your vote on the ballot paper in secret, and seal the envelope yourself.
You will also be asked to give your date of birth and signature when applying for a postal or proxy vote. This makes postal voting safe, because when you return your postal voting pack your signature and date of birth are checked against those you provided before to confirm your identity.
Your signature and date of birth are separated from your ballot paper before it is looked at or counted, so giving this information will not affect the secrecy of your vote.
We are working hard to ensure that polling stations will be safe places to vote in May, but you can choose to apply to vote by post or by proxy instead.
Everything you need to know about voting in person
The May elections are just around the corner so here is a guide to what you can expect if you’re voting in person on Thursday 6 May.
If you have registered to vote, you will receive a poll card through the post from Reading Borough Council. It will tell you where you polling station is. Make sure you check your poll card before heading out to vote, in case your polling station has change since your last voted. You can also find out where your polling station is on the Electoral Commission website, or Where Do I Vote? by entering your postcode.
Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm. You can vote at any time within this window. And don’t forget, you need to go to your designated polling station, you can’t go to a different one, for example near where you work.
Yes, polling stations will be safe places to vote. You can expect many of the measures you’ve become used to in shops or other indoor spaces, such as social distancing and hand sanitiser.
You can help keep yourself, and others, safe by:
If you become unwell or are self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 shortly before polling day, or on the day itself, you don’t need to miss out on your vote.
You will be able to apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day, so someone you can trust can vote on your behalf. You can arrange it by speaking to Electoral Services on 0118 937 3717 or via email email@example.com.
You should bring your own pen or pencil, in order to minimise contact. You should also wear a face covering so that you can keep yourself, and others, safe on polling day.
If you forget to bring these with you polling station staff will have spare face coverings and clean pencils available for you. You will not be prevented from entering the polling station if you forget these things.
It should only take a few minutes to vote. We have put arrangements in place to help maintain social distancing within the polling stations. This means you may have to queue to enter. If you are asked to queue, please be patient and we will work to enable you to vote as quickly as possible.
If you are still in a queue waiting to vote at 10pm, you will be able to vote before the polls close.
Polling station staff will be on hand to greet you and invite you in as soon as polls open at 7am. There will be markers on the floor that will show you which way to go and help you maintain social distancing. Staff will also point out the public health measures that you should follow whilst you’re in the polling station.
The staff will give you a ballot paper listing who you can vote for. Depending on the elections taking place in your area, you may have more than one ballot paper to complete.
Take your ballot paper into a polling booth. There will be a shelf for you to lean and write one. Use your own pen or pencil, or if you forgot to bring one, ask the poll clerks for a clean one.
Take your time: read the ballot paper carefully and complete it in line with the instructions.
Don’t write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.
If you make a mistake, don’t worry – as long as you haven’t already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can give you a replacement ballot paper.
Once you’re done, fold your completed ballot paper in half and put it in the ballot box. This will be on the desk beside the polling station staff.
If you’re not sure what to do, or need any help, just ask the staff at the polling station – they will be happy to assist you.
If you have a disability which means you can’t fill in the ballot paper yourself, you can ask the presiding officer – the person in charge of the polling station – to mark the ballot paper for you, or you can take someone along with you to help you.
If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a large print ballot paper to refer to when you case your vote, or a special tactile voting device that is designed so you can mark your own ballot paper on your own.
Your vote is yours and yours alone: you do not need to tell anyone how you voted.
Exit polls are sometimes conducted, where people – usually private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters – ask voters leaving the polling station who they voted for to help them predict what the outcome might be. You do not need to respond to their questions if you don’t want to.
Political discussion is not allowed inside and immediately around the polling station and staff will ask you to stop so that there’s no risk of influencing other voters. If you want to debate your vote with friends or family, do it away from the polling station.
You might see people outside the polling station who ask you for the number on your poll card. These people are called ‘tellers’, and are volunteering on behalf of candidates or parties. They will use the information you give them to check who has voted, and to remind people who haven’t yet voted, to do so.
They are allowed to be there and to ask for the information, but you don’t have to give them any information if you don’t want to. If you are concerned about the conduct of a teller, speak to a member of staff at the polling station.
You shouldn’t take photos inside the polling station as it might put the secrecy of the ballot at risk. You are more than welcome to take photos outside the polling station and share them on social media to encourage your friends and family to vote.
You can go along to the polling station with whomever you like, but only those registered to vote at that station will be able to go inside. You must not be accompanied into the polling booth by another adult, unless you have a disability, in which case you can take someone in to help you, or you can ask one of the polling station staff for their help.
Children are welcome at polling stations. While your child must not mark the ballot paper for you, you will be allowed to take them into the polling booth with you. Animals, apart from assistance dogs, are not usually allowed inside polling stations, so will need to be secured outside if you do decide to take them with you.