The local election campaign starts here! Are you ready to vote?

Election counts will take place on May 3 either in the early hours or during the late morining. Pic

Election counts will take place on May 3 either in the early hours or during the late morining. Picture by ASHLEY PICKERING - Credit: Ashley Pickering

This year’s local elections take place on Thursday May 2, but registration dates and other deadlines will vary slightly from authority to authority in Suffolk and Essex. Here we explain more.

At Ipswich Corn Exchange voting will take place overnight. Picture : RICHARD MARSHAM RMG PHOTOGRAPHY

At Ipswich Corn Exchange voting will take place overnight. Picture : RICHARD MARSHAM RMG PHOTOGRAPHY

In the two districts, Suffolk Coastal and Waveney, that make up the new East Suffolk District, the notices of election were being sent out on Friday, March 15.

These are the official notices telling people that there will be an election and the dates that nominations have to be submitted by.

The day that the notices of election are published marks the start of the official pre-election period, known colloquially as “Purdah” during which time normal political work by the authorities is suspended – the only council committees to meet are those with planning or licensing functions.

The notice of election doesn’t have to be published until the opening date for nominations which is Tuesday, March 26 everywhere.

West Suffolk council, the other new authority in the county, will be publishing its notices of election on Friday, March 22, while Mid Suffolk, Babergh and Ipswich councils will be waiting until March 26.

In Essex, Tendring District Council is publishing its notice of election on March 20 while Colchester will be firing the starting pistol two days later, on March 22.

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Other dates are fixed by the government to ensure that all councils have organised their elections properly.

April 3: Candidates have until 4pm to submit (or withdraw) their nominations and to appoint agents.

April 4: By 4pm on this day all councils have to publish the names of election candidates, along with their addresses, and details of their agents and the people who have nominated and seconded their candidacy.

April 12: The last day for residents to register for a vote in this year’s local elections.

April 15: The last day that people can apply for a postal vote to take part in May’s local council elections.

April 24: The official notice of poll for every seat has to be published by this day. This is also the deadline for the receipt of proxy vote applications for people who will be out of the country on polling day.

April 25: The councils organising the elections have to appoint poll and council agents by this date.

April 26: The first day you can apply for replacement postal ballot papers if you have lost the first one you have been sent.

May 2(polling day): If you have spoilt or lost your postal ballot paper you can apply for a replacement at your local council office up until 5pm – but you will then have to fill them in on the spot or get them to your property’s polling station if they are to be included in the vote.

The same deadline and conditions apply for people needing an emergency proxy vote on behalf of someone who has had to leave the country in a hurry.

On election day polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm. In most places you don’t need to take any identification in to vote – although it can speed things up if you take along your polling card so the officials can find your voter number of their lists.

May 3: Votes are counted. In Ipswich and Colchester the votes are counted overnight with the first ballot boxes arriving shortly after polls closed. The results usually start being declared about 1am and are generally finished about an hour later.

Other councils count their votes during the following day – starting the count at 9am or 10am. This should means that the results are all announced by lunchtime and we know the shape of the councils by the Friday afternoon.

Over the next few weeks the councils will hold annual meetings when they will chose leaders, chairs (or mayors), and executive or cabinet members – allowing normal council business to start again – but there is still one important date in the diary for new councillors and their agents.

June 6: Declaration of candidates’ expenses. By this day the agents of all the election candidates must produce a detailed breakdown of everything that has been spent on their campaign to ensure they did not breach any of the financial rules surrounding elections.

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