Senedd Election 2021: What you need to know from key dates to how to vote

  • ITV Wales video report

On 6 May, Welsh voters will vote to decide who will represent them in the Senedd for the next five years.

The pandemic has made people in Wales aware of the direct impact the devolved Welsh Government can have on our lives.

In order for people to have their say and vote on election day, they have to be registered. The deadline to apply online is midnight on Monday 19th April.

If that deadline is missed, people can register to vote by proxy - where someone you trust votes for you, providing you cannot attend for certain reasons. The deadine is 27th April.

Over 30,000 people in the UK rushed to register to vote online in next month's elections before Monday night's deadline.

By 3pm on Monday 31,530 online applications to register had been submitted according to Government figures.

But what is the Welsh Government?

Following a referendum, the Welsh government was established in 1999 to give people more power over key issues such as education, health, transport, housing, social services, Welsh language policy, agriculture and public services.

The role of the Senedd is to hold the Welsh Government to account by overseeing decisions made, making and scrutinising laws and agreeing Welsh Taxes.

The Welsh Parliament, also known as Senedd Cymru, is made up of 60 elected members.

The Senedd is based in Cardiff Bay and is separate from the House of Commons in London which approves new laws and taxes and holds the Government to account for the whole of the UK.

The election will decide who forms the next Welsh Government which is responsible for public services like hospitals, schools and transport in Wales.

How does the voting system work?

Every person is represented by five members of the Senedd. One member for their constituency and four for the region of Wales where they live.

During a Senedd election, people will have two votes:

A constituency vote, which will be the first vote on the ballot paper and will be the person someone wants to represent them and their local area.

40 out of the 60 members of the Senedd will represent individual areas of Wales (constituencies)

A Regional vote, which will be the second vote on the ballot paper. This vote is for who someone wants to represent their region of Wales. 20 members of the Senedd represent the five regions of Wales:

  • South Wales East

  • South Wales Central

  • South Wales West

  • Mid and West Wales

  • North Wales

Throughout the run-up to the election, the Senedd is hosting free online sessions which are open to anyone wanting to find out more about voting in the 2021 election.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Tuesday 20 April 2021.

Who can vote?

For the first time 16 and 17-year-olds as well as foreign citizens legally resident in Wales can vote after a Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act was passed in 2019.

A person must be living in Wales and registered in order to vote. To register to vote they must be:

  • a British or Irish citizen

  • a qualifying EU citizen

  • a qualifying Commonwealth citizen

Will Covid affect how people vote?

Local polling stations will have hand sanitiser available, screens will be put up and social distancing will be enforced.

Voters are advised to bring their own pen or pencils, but there will be clean pencils available on the day.

People who are unable to visit polling stations or are vulnerable to coronavirus can apply to vote by post. It can also be arranged for someone to vote on someone else's behalf which is called a 'proxy vote' and the registration deadline for this is 5pm on Tuesday 27 April 2021.

In 2018 Mark Drakeford became the Welsh Government's First Minister and leader of the Labour Party.

When will we know the results?

Usually counting would take place overnight but due to the pandemic, counting will start the next day which means the results will take longer this year.

It is estimated that all counts should be completed two days after the election.

Constituency candidates that win the most votes will become members of the Senedd because they are elected using the ‘first-past-the-post’ system. 

Regional candidates are elected using a different system that aims to elect members depending on how many votes their party won in that region as a whole. 

The Welsh Government will be run by the party with the most seats.

Currently, the Welsh Government is a Labour-led coalition, with the sole Liberal Democrat, Kirsty Williams and one independent, Dafydd Elis-Thomas. The head of the Welsh Government is First Minister Mark Drakeford.

A coalition happens when the winning party wins less than 30 seats in the Senedd. If a party does win 30 seats it will be able to form a government without help from the opposition.