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Senedd Members representing constituencies in Caerphilly County Borough want this year’s Senedd election to go ahead as planned, providing it is safe to do so.
The election is due to take place on Thursday, May 6.
However, plans are being drawn up by Welsh Government to delay it by up to six months if it presents a serious risk to public health due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A draft Bill being prepared by ministers which would enable the Llywydd, the Senedd’s Presiding Officer and speaker, to postpone the election for up to six months.
All seven members who represent constituencies and regions in the borough told Caerphilly Observer they want the elections to go ahead as planned if it is safe to do so.
What do Senedd Members say?
Dawn Bowden, MS for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney | Labour
“I am in favour of holding the election on May 6 as planned, but I accept we have to be guided by the public health situation with the virus at the time. All elections involve significant preparation so I think all of the options to ensure a safe and secure election on this date, including postal voting, should be explored.
“However, if we find a delay is necessary, it should be as short as possible. For me, that means the early summer when we have warmer weather and longer days. I would certainly not be supportive of a delay till Autumn.”
Hefin David, MS for Caerphilly | Labour
“I very much want to see the election go ahead as planned in May as long as it is safe to do so.”
Delyth Jewell, MS for South Wales East | Plaid Cymru
“This has been a long and difficult Senedd term and I know that all parties want an election to be held as soon as practical to give people the chance to elect a fresh government.
“However, Plaid Cymru will continue to prioritise safety until we can be absolutely certain that holding elections won’t place people at risk, so will be supporting legislation to allow the option of a delay in case this is required to avoid preventable transmission of the virus.”
Laura Anne Jones, MS for South Wales East | Welsh Conservatives
“When questioned on a possible delay the First Minister said he believed that the Welsh Parliament elections should take place on May 6. I agree with him.
“It’s concerning that the Welsh Government is now introducing a law that would enable that date to be moved.
“Changing the date of the election has huge ramifications and many people will feel that they’re having their voice taken away.
“I have every confidence that our election officials can carry out a safe and secure election on May 6, learning from the multitude of elections that have taken place around the globe during the pandemic.”
Rhianon Passmore, MS for Islwyn | Labour
“I want to see the next Senedd elections take place in May as scheduled. I know that the Welsh Government will do everything possible to make this happen, but it is sensible that we prepare in case circumstances would make this unsafe.
I would also encourage people to register for a postal vote, which can help reduce the numbers gathering on election day.”
Mark Reckless, MS for South Wales East | Abolish The Welsh Assembly Party
“I oppose any delay in our election due in May. We will already have served a five-year term, which is quite enough time without an election.
“Many other countries have successfully held elections during the pandemic, including recently the United States, where people would have been outraged if Trump had been able to stay in power by postponing the election.
“We should let people vote on the first Thursday in May as planned.”
David Rowlands, MS for South Wales East | Independent Alliance for Reform
“With the Covid situation changing constantly, my colleagues and I will be watching the Welsh Government’s decision to postpone the Senedd election closely.
“We want to ensure that any decision is made with the right medical and scientific advice, which the public and Senedd can be presented with before any delay is implemented.
“Our preference is for the election to go ahead as planned in May, but with the ever-changing Covid situation, we can’t say for certain what will be the best course of action.”
A number of measures have already been announced in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of voters and election staff.
These include encouraging vulnerable voters and others to consider applying for postal votes, providing greater flexibility for proxy voting and candidate nomination, measures to ensure safe operating of polling stations and count venues, and ensuring coronavirus regulations do no prevent or discourage people from voting.
It has already been announced that votes will not be counted until Sunday, May 9, breaking from the norm of votes being counted and results announced on the night of polling day.
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What has the First Minister said?
When addressing the Senedd, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Let me take this opportunity to once again state that this Government’s clear intention is that the next Senedd election should be held on May 6, 2021.
“We are also determined to do everything in our power to ensure people can vote when the election takes place.
“I believe we must pursue every option for enabling people to exercise their democratic right in the face of coronavirus.
“Much communications activity is planned to encourage postal voting, and everything will be done to make polling stations Covid-secure.
“I would like to thank the members of the Elections Planning Group for their work to help us prepare for next year’s Senedd elections.
“This has been a remarkable year and a remarkable Fifth Senedd. Let us work together to ensure that the people of Wales, including those newly enfranchised, can exercise their democratic right safely.”
This year’s Senedd Election will be the first in which sixteen and seventeen-year olds will be allowed to vote following a new law that came into effect last year.
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