Are you eligible to vote in the Senedd elections on 6th May this year? If you’re aged 16+ then you are, and if you want a voice in what happens then you need to be registered to vote by 19th April or you won’t be allowed.
If you don’t vote then you don’t have a say about who sits in the Senedd making decisions about your life. You might think that your one vote won’t make much difference, but it matters more than you realise. Even if you attend to spoil your vote, it’s still your opportunity to tell them that the way young people are feeling is important.
Allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote this year means a potential 100,000+ extra new votes. If a large number of people in your age group decided that they weren’t going to vote, then that’s a lot of votes that aren’t counted, and your generation won’t be represented.
Even if you there’s nobody you want to vote for, spoilt ballots are still counted and announced. This is your chance to tell them that you are not being represented and that you’re not happy with any of the choices given to you, this might make them change their future policies. If you stay at home they just think you’re not interested.
What am I voting for?
You’ll have two votes, one for the person you want to represent you in the Senedd (the Constituency member) and one for a political party or independent candidate (the regional member).
The Senedd makes laws and sets taxes in Wales and it also oversees the work of the Welsh Government. This means that they check to make sure that they are doing what they are meant to be doing and spending money correctly.
The Senedd has 60 members that are elected by the Welsh public. Five members represent you and your area for the next five years – one for your local area and the other four for the region you live in.
The Welsh Government is then formed from the party or parties that hold the most seats at the Senedd, led by the First Minister (the leader of the party with the most seats). The First Minister chooses ministers and deputy ministers from the Senedd to form the Welsh Government.
Check out this video to see what powers the Senedd has:
How to register
If you want to vote in the Senedd elections, then you need to make sure that you are registered to vote before 11:59pm on Monday, 19th April. If you’re not registered then you won’t be allowed to vote.
You can register online in just a few minutes. You’ll need your National Insurance Number, but don’t worry if you haven’t had yours yet, you can still register. Register here. If you’d rather do it on paper and not online then you’ll need to print out the form here and send it to your local Electoral Registration Office.
You only need to register once and you’ll be able to vote in all future elections, but if your name, address or nationality changes then you’ll need to register again. If you’re not sure if you’re already registered then check your local Electoral Registration Office to find out. Contact them also if you need help to register or check out this easy read guide to registering to vote.
How to vote
You can vote in person, by post or by proxy vote.
If you’re not keen on going to the polling station this year because of Covid, or if you can’t go because of your circumstances, then you can apply for a postal vote instead and post your choices in. WARNING: You must apply for a postal vote and applications close on Tuesday, 20th April this year.
You can also make an application for a proxy vote – where you nominate someone you trust to go and vote for you. This might be a good option if you’ve been shielding or if you can’t visit your polling station for another reason. Applications for a proxy vote must be made before 27 April and you’ll need to say why you can’t get to the polling station yourself.
This year they also have an emergency proxy vote, so if you find you have to self-isolate because of Covid, then you can apply up until 5pm on voting day. You can also change your nominated proxy if they have to self-isolate.
All the latest information about the elections and how they will work this year is available on the Electoral Commission website.