Elections 2021: Voters head to the polls in bumper set of votes

Around 48 million people are eligible to vote in Thursday's elections. Credit: PA

Voters are preparing to go to the polls for a bumper set of elections after the Covid-19 pandemic led to many polls being delayed in 2020.

On what has been dubbed 'super Thursday', thousands of elected positions are being fought for across the UK, but not in Northern Ireland.

Key battles are being held for Scottish and Welsh Parliament seats, mayoral roles, councillor positions, and even a seat in the House of Commons is up for grabs.

Around 48 million people are eligible to vote, with polling stations set to open from 7am to 10pm.

Around 5,000 council seats are being contested in England in 143 councils.

Scots will be electing MSPs to Hollyrood on Thursday. Credit: PA

There are 60 seats in the Welsh Parliament up for grabs - this will be the first time in which 16 and 17 year olds can vote for a member of the Senedd Cymru.

In the Scottish Parliament 129 seats are being contested.

There are 13 mayoral battles, in some of the bigger cities and regions across England.

In the capital Londoners will also vote for 25 members of the London Assembly.

Voters in England and Wales will also elect 39 police and crime commissioners (PCCs) - it will be the third election since their creation in 2011.

Plus a single seat in the House of Commons is being contested in the Hartlepool by-election, which was triggered after Labour MP Mike Hill stood down in March.

The first meeting will be a mix of members attending in person and virtually. Credit: PA

Taking place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's elections will be different to those in previous years, with restrictions remaining in place at polling stations.

Anyone heading out to vote will be expected to socially distance and wear face masks while participating.

Polling stations will also have their own coronavirus measures in place, such as one-way systems, plastic screens and hand sanitisers.

While much of the above is to be expected, perhaps the most surprising difference to other years is that voters are being asked to bring their own pens.

If you've been told to self-isolate you will be able to request a proxy vote up until 5pm on polling day.

More postal votes are expected to be cast due to people wanting to avoid polling stations.

Coronavirus restrictions also mean that results are likely to filter through over several days, with less overnight counts taking place.

Votes in the Hartlepool by-election will be counted overnight, with a result expected in the early hours of Friday, while Holyrood votes will be counted on Friday and Saturday.

In Wales, the make-up of the Senedd should become clear on Friday.

It could be Sunday night before all the results in England’s local contests are known, while the final results in Police and Crime Commissioner elections may not come until Monday night.

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