Newsletter 2

Introduction

This newsletter will inform you of the processes and approach the Returning Officer will take to deliver open and transparent elections.

On the 6 May 2021 there will be 5 different polls or elections taking place, not all in the same areas. These are:

  • Essex County Council, Whole District, White Ballot papers
  • Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Whole District, Buff Ballot papers
  • Braintree District , 1 Ward By-elections, Yellow Ballot papers
  • Town and Parish, 5 Ward By-elections, Green Ballot papers
  • Neighbourhood Planning Referendum , 1 Parish Area, Lilac Ballot papers

In this newsletter the Returning Officer will inform you of:

  • Key dates in the election calendar
  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
  • Returning Officer jurisdiction
  • Nomination
  • Polling stations
  • Postal voting
  • Arrangements for verification and count

Key Dates

  • 8 April 2021 (4.00pm) - Deadline for Nominations
  • 19 April 2021 (midnight) - Deadline for Registration
  • 20 April 2021 (5.00pm) - Deadline for Postal Applications
  • 27 April 2021 (5.00pm) - Deadline for Proxy applications
  • 28 April 2021 - Deadline for Notification of Count Attendance
  • 6 May 2021 - Polling Day
  • 11 June 2020 - Declaration of Expenses

The Returning Officer

The Returning Officer ensures that the Electoral Law is upheld. In summary they:

  • Check that nominations made are legal. They are not allowed to investigate any aspect of the consent to nomination. This is the candidates responsibility.
  • Ensure that we maintain processes to provide an election which is transparent and secure.
  • Ensure that each person’s vote remains secret.
  • The Returning Officer ensures sure that all legal votes cast are counted. The Returning Officer is also responsible for the declaration of results.
  • Receipt of declarations of candidate expenses

The Returning Officer has no authority to:

  • Investigate allegations of electoral malpractice. This is for the Police to consider further investigation and you must report allegations to them. You can report this to:
  • Investigate candidate, agent and party activities. This is for the Police to investigate and you must report allegations to them.
  • Abandon the electoral process irrespective of any allegation.
  • Provide candidates, party’s, or agents on matters or interpretations of Electoral law. This is a personal matter and you must seek your own independent legal advice.
Information

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

This election will not be the same as in previous years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Returning Officer must continue to run the election which gives equity and transparency for candidates. They must provide a safe environment for staff, electors, candidates and candidate workers. They must also contribute to the prevention of the spread of the virus.

Because of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Polling Stations will change. These changes include:

  • Queuing outside the Polling Station
  • Social distancing (2m) both inside and outside the Polling Station
  • Staff may sit behind screens
  • Everyone must wear facemasks in the Polling Station
  • Sanitising hands when going into the Polling Station
  • Only 1 voter able to vote at the same time in the same Polling Station
  • We will encourage voters to bring their own pen or pencil.

The Secretary of State for Educational standards issued guidance for using schools as polling stations. They advised that to minimise the impact on students, we must not use schools for the election on 6 May 2021. We must use this guidance unless there is no other alternative available.

The Returning Officer has considered alternative polling stations for all schools. They concluded that whilst not ideal, we will use alternative Polling Stations.

We will tell all Polling Station electors of these changes. We will do this through their personal Poll Card. The Returning Officer will also write to all households with a map advising of the changes.

– St Michaels --> Braintree Bowling Club

– St Francis --> Mobile Unit – Meadowside

– Beckers Green --> Marks Farm Community Hall

– Alec Hunter --> St Pauls Church Hall

– Notley High --> Goldingham Hall

– Holy Trinity --> Halstead Empire Theatre

– Honywood --> St Peters Church

– Chipping Hill --> Mobile Unit, Haygreen Road, Witham

Nominations

The requirements of nomination have not changed. However, the Minister of State for the Constitution has laid legislation which comes into effect on 11 March 2021. This removes the need for 8 Assenters (supporters) to also sign the Nomination. Each Nomination must still have a Proposer and Seconder. It must also contain their original “wet ink” signature and their Elector numbers.

The use of Political Party descriptions and logos are matters for the Political Parties. Party Nominating or Political Agents must authorise the use of these. If you are not standing as a Party Candidate, you must use the description "Independent". We do not accept any other description.

The Returning Officer recommends that your check your nomination before you deliver it. For this election you can email your forms to nominations@braintree.gov.uk. These include:

  • Nomination form
  • Consent to nomination
  • Home address form
  • Party authorisations

We will then check these forms for you. This does not mean that your nomination is officially valid. Legally, you must still deliver your original forms by hand to the Returning or Deputy Returning Officer. You can find the Returning and Deputy Returning Officers at Causeway House, Bocking End, Braintree CM7 9HB. You must deliver this between 9:00am and 4:00pm, Monday to Friday.

You are not allowed to use any form of electronic methods to submit your final nomination

Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Causeway House is closed. You must make an appointment to deliver your nomination. You can do this by ringing 01376 557751 or email steve.daynes@braintree.gov.uk

Campaigning

The Returning Officer will not tell any candidate how to conduct their campaign.

Billboards and posters are a matter for our Planning Enforcement team. The Returning Officer cannot intervene. You must get the landowner or building owner’s permission before you display posters etc.

You must avoid placing billboards on highway verges, roundabouts and street furniture.

All your literature or social media posts must have your Official Imprint. The Electoral Commission publish guidance for this on their website.

No literature should include any notice. This includes Poll Cards issued by the Returning Officer

Postal voting

Royal Mail will dispatch postal votes via 1st class post on 19 April 2021.

Electors will receive a combined postal voting pack containing ballot papers. These will be for County Council and Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections.

The Returning Officer will send a separate postal pack for each By-election

The postal opening process is open to scrutiny. Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) social distancing, this must be by appointment. We limit these appointments to 1 representative for each candidate per division. The Returning Officer will co-ordinate openings to reflect attendees. To maximise observation we may ask you to leave after we have processed your division.

Verification and Count

Information on the verification and count processes are currently under review. We will publish further information on our website in the upcoming weeks.

Contact details

Returning/Deputy Returning Officer    

  • Andy Wright
  • 01376 552525
  • andy.wright@braintree.gov.uk

Election Team

  • Steve Daynes
  • 01376 557751
  • Steve.daynes@braintree.gov.uk

  • Jenny Armstrong
  • 01376 552525 ext 2649
  • Jenny.armstrong@braintree.gov.uk

  • Thelma Loo
  • 01376 557750
  • Thelma.loo@braintree.gov.uk