Residents urged to have their say

A voting ballot paper

Three elections are happening in North Tyneside next Thursday and residents are being reminded to cast their vote.

On Thursday, May 5, those who are registered have the chance to decide how North Tyneside is governed in the future, as well as voting for their local councillor and a police and crime commissioner for the Northumbria force area.

North Tyneside has been governed by an elected mayor since 2002, and the position is currently held by Norma Redfearn.

The elected mayor is voted on by the whole of the North Tyneside electors. The role of the elected mayor it is to be the council’s principal public spokesperson, set political direction to the council and they appoint a cabinet and deputy mayor to work with them.

And next week, voters will be asked whether this continues or changes to a committee system (with a leader).

The appointment of the leader and the chairs of the committee are decided by councillors. Decisions are taken by the committees which are made up of a number of councillors depending on the size of the political group.

If the referendum results in a change, it will take effect from the end of the current elected mayor’s term of office, in May 2017.

Alternatively, if the outcome is to support the current system, the next mayoral election will take place on 4 May, 2017.

Also next week, voters in North Tyneside will take to the polls to choose their local ward councillor and the police and crime commissioner for the Northumbria Police area – and the council recently released the lists of candidates and they are available to view on its website.

Ahead of the elections, Viv Geary, Returning Officer for North Tyneside Council said: “We're getting very close to polling day now, so we want to make sure that everyone knows what the three votes are for, and how easy it is to take part and cast their vote.

“Anyone looking for more information will likely find the answer to their questions on the council’s website and they can get in touch with our team if they have any other queries.”

Details of polling stations, the full list of candidates and frequently asked questions about the mayoral referendum are available at Alternatively, call the elections team on (0191) 643 2270.

Here’s a rundown of things you need to know before polling day:

Make sure you vote in time

  • Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 5 May. You had to have applied to register to vote by midnight on 18 April in order to be able to vote on 5 May.
  • Your poll card will have been sent to the address where you are registered. It will say where your polling station is. You can only vote at the polling station that is stated on your own poll card.
  • Plan what time you will be able to cast your vote at the polling station, leaving plenty of time before the 10pm deadline.
  • If you are in a queue at your polling station at 10pm you will still be able to vote.
  • If you arrive at the polling station after 10pm then the poll will be closed and you will have missed your chance to take part.

Postal voting

  • If you have a postal vote, make sure it is returned by 10pm on Thursday 5 May.
  • If you have not had time to post it before polling day, then you can take it to the polling station on polling day and hand it in. Your poll card tells you where your polling station is. Postal votes that arrive after 10pm on May 5 will not be counted.

Proxy voting

  • If you’ve appointed a proxy, then they need to make sure they are able to vote at the correct polling station on your behalf.
  • If you are suddenly unable to vote in person, because you have a medical emergency which prevents you from attending on polling day, or your occupation, service or employment means that you cannot go to the polling station in person, and you only become aware of that fact after the deadline, then you may be entitled to appoint an emergency proxy.
  • You can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day. You should contact your local electoral registration office directly to ask about this.

What you need to take with you

  • Just yourself!
  • You can take your poll card with you to show the polling station staff when you arrive. They will still ask for you to confirm your name and address. If you don’t have it with you, just tell the polling station staff your name and your address and they can check whether you’re on the electoral register.

Social media

  • Social media is a great way to let your friends and family know you have voted and to encourage them to do the same. So use Twitter, Facebook and any other social media accounts you have to get the message out there.
  • Remember- pictures of you before you go into or after you leave the polling station are great to use on social media posts but don’t take a picture of yourself inside the polling station as if you post this it could be a breach of the law.

How to fill out your ballot papers

  • The staff at the polling station will give you your ballot papers listing the candidates you can vote for and the options you can select from You will be given more than one ballot paper because there are three elections taking place in North Tyneside on the same day (mayoral referendum, local councillor elections and police and crime commissioner)
  • Staff are on hand at the polling station to provide advice on the voting process.
  • If you have a disability, you can ask the Presiding Officer for help and they can mark the ballot paper for you. You can also ask someone else to help you (e.g. a support worker, as long as they are either a relative or an eligible elector).
  • If you have a visual impairment, you can ask to see a large print ballot paper or you can ask for a special voting device that allows you to vote on your own in secret.
  • Take your ballot papers into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot papers carefully, they will tell you how to cast your vote. Do not write anything else on the papers or your vote may not be counted.
  • Mark your ballot papers according to the instructions. A pencil will be provided for you to do this, but you may use your own pen if you prefer.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot papers, don’t worry, So long as you haven’t already put it in the ballot box just let the polling station staff know and they can issue you with replacement ballot papers.
  • Fold your completed ballot papers in half and pop them in the ballot box - and that’s it done!