Voters in Wales head to the polls for Senedd election

polling station in Wales credit PA
Woman going into St Catherine's church hall polling station, Cardiff, to vote in the Welsh Parliamentary Elections, with her dog. Credit: PA

Polling stations across Wales have opened, meaning people have until 10pm this evening to cast their votes for who they want to control the Senedd.

For the first time 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to vote in the Senedd Election.

There are two ballot papers, the first vote will be for your constituency candidate.

The second ballot is your regional vote. For this one, you vote for a party to represent you.

This year, over eighteens will also be voting in the Police and Crime Commissioner election.

This election was due to be held last year, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

You would have received another ballot paper for this election, where you can vote for your first and second choice candidate. But, you can only choose one, if you prefer.

The 2021 Welsh Parliament election is the first to be held since Wales' legislature changed its name from the National Assembly for Wales and the first to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote.

The new Senedd will meet next week after the sixth election since 1999.

It is 22 years since devolution began to see law-making and taxation powers moved from Westminster to Cardiff Bay, with responsibilities for health, education, economic development, transport, the environment, agriculture and local government now resting in Wales.

The National Assembly for Wales was opened in 1999 following the result of a referendum in 1997.

It initially met in Crickhowell House, later renamed Ty Hywel after the early medieval Welsh law-maker Hywel Dda.

A purpose-built debating chamber opened in 2006 and was named the Senedd, the Welsh word for parliament. Another referendum in 2011 gave it much greater law-making powers.

The Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 not only lowered the voting age for Senedd elections but extended the right to vote to all foreign nationals legally resident in Wales.

It also changed the Assembly's name to Senedd Cymru or Welsh Parliament. Its members became known as Members of the Senedd or MSs, instead of Assembly Members or AMs.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Senedd has usually met either entirely virtually or else in hybrid form, with some MSs in the debating chamber but with the rest joining by video conference.

The new Senedd will meet next week after the sixth election since 1999. The first business will be to elect a presiding officer, known as the Llywydd.

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