Polling Day is of course on Thursday 7 May. In reality people have been able to cast their vote since about 24 April- almost two weeks earlier.
Postal votes were sent out on 23 and 24 April so the first ones could have been received at the Electoral Services Offices in Barnstaple on Monday 27 April. In fact that’s the first day the postal votes were opened. So, in essence, polling really started then and will finish on 7 May.
Postal voters are crucial to candidates as they tend to vote and there are a large number of them. The turnout for postal voters is generally 70% to 80% and they form an increasing proportion of the electorate. For example, in South Molton there are something like 3,950 registered voters of whom about 615 are postal voters – 15.5% of the total.
This is more of an issue in elections where overall turnout is low as the postal voter ‘turnout’ remains high. An additional factor in town/parish council elections is the fact there is no duty to send out official polling cards to the electorate. Therefore the only people who will definitely know that there is an election will be postal voters, as they must be sent their ballot papers.