Why Ipswich's local elections could be decided weeks before polling day
- Credit: BRITTANY WOODMAN
Nearly half of the votes in Ipswich's local elections could be cast by the middle of next week - meaning the contest could effectively be decided weeks before polling day.
A total of 18 seats at Ipswich Borough Council are up for election this year.
Thousands more people have applied to vote by post in 2021, so they can take part in the most Covid-secure way.
The deadline for applying for a postal vote is Tuesday, April 20 - with ballots sent out after that date.
Most people who have applied for postal votes in Ipswich should receive them on Saturday or next Monday.
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While people have until May 6 to vote, it is believed many people send their forms back straight away.
Ipswich council chief executive and returning officer Russell Williams said it looks as if approximately 35% of the borough's 100,000 had applied to vote by post.
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He said: "Given that those who have applied for postal votes are more likely to vote than those who just go down to the polling station, I think we could well see that more than half the votes in Ipswich in this election are from postal votes."
Full details of the count after the poll have now also been worked out.
The votes will all be verified - checked that they are in order and the allocated to the right poll - on the Friday morning after the vote. The counting of county council votes will start after lunch on Friday, May 7 at about 2pm.
At the same time in Ipswich, the counting for 18 borough council seats will start.
Mr Williams expects the first results to be announced at about 3pm, with the last coming in between 5pm and 6pm.
There are some wards and divisions where more than one councillor is up for election, meaning these seats take longer to count.
The count for the police and crime commissioner election will take place on Saturday morning.
Votes will be counted in individual sites around the county but will be co-ordinated at the central count in Lowestoft, where the declaration of the winner will be made at lunchtime.