It has been a long wait but it looks almost certain that Thursday May 6th will see local and mayoral elections taking place once again. This will be in addition to the elections for the devolved parliaments in Scotland and Wales.
The pandemic meant that no elections took place last May and none of the hundred of local council vacancies have been filled because by-elections have been covered as well. As a result this looks set to be just about the biggest set of local elections ever. In Scotland local by-elections have been happening over the past few months.
COVID has meant there will be some procedural changes to reduce the normal contact required. Thus council candidates who would normally be required to have 10 people from the area sign their nomination forms will now only require a proposer and seconder.
Pre-COVID one of the regular features on PB every Thursday night and Friday morning used to be the overnight election results with people trying to draw national conclusions from what’s happened in an obscure ward there may be only 20% of people have voted.
The great thing is that once again we will be getting real data on voting behaviour and there will be a huge amount to chew over. One party that has suffered most from the local election blackout has been the LDs who struggle to get attention nationally and rely on local elections to remind voters that they still exist.
An issue, of course, is that campaigning will be very limited. Door to door canvassing is clearly not possible. The biggest English election will be that for London Mayor with a potential electorate of 5m+.
Michael Thrasher of the Election Centre is making available his 2019 Local Elections Handbook with all the detailed data for free download. I’ll post a link when I get it.