Welsh Parliament elections 2021: How do you vote?
The Welsh Parliament, or Senedd elections will be taking place across Wales on Thursday the 6th of May. Though postal voting may start and be sent before this date.
The election is a chance for the welsh people to elect their representatives for the Welsh Parliament. The election takes place every 5 years and sees the election of 60 Members of the Senedd (MSs).
The Welsh parliament has the power to introduce policy, debate and pass laws on:
These areas of policy are known as devolved matters. These are matters which were outlined by the 1999 devolution act as well as recent expansions in 2014 and 2017 which give the Welsh national parliament the power to make local decisions. The Welsh government spends around £17 billion a year giving it a large impact and importance in deciding the future of Wales.
Where the welsh parliament doesn’t make decisions are in the reserved matters of Nuclear energy foreign affairs and defence which are instead the responsibility of the Houses of Parliament.
This will be the first election in Wales since the 2020 Senedd and Elections Act which has seen the parliament rename itself from its previous name of the Welsh National Assembly. This is to represent the growing responsibility of the Welsh Parliament since the expansion of its remit in 2014 after a public referendum. Along with the Wales act of 2014 and 2017 the Sennedd’s powers have increased devolving decisions away from Westminster to be instead made in Wales.
How does the election work?
The Welsh Parliament or Senedd has 60 MSs and uses what is known as an Additional Member System (AMS) to elect them.
AMS means everyone has two votes. The first vote is for your constituency MS. There are 40 constituencies in Wales and each elects one MS using first past the post, which is the same system used in a UK general election. First past the post simply means the candidate with the most votes wins. The second vote is for your regional MS. There are 5 regions in Wales and each region elects 4 MSs. This vote however uses a more proportional voting system meaning that the 4 seats in each region are attributed in proportion to the amount of votes each party received.
AMS is designed to give voters greater representation in the welsh parliament ensuring that people's views are represented by a wider range of political parties and truly reflect the political thoughts of the welsh people.
The Welsh government is then formed by the party or in most cases a collection of parties, which is called a coalition, who are able to reach a majority of 31 in the Senedd. The labour party has won every election since the parliament's creation in 1999 but have not always secured an overall majority such as in the last election where they entered into a coalition with the Liberal democrats and an independent.
Who can vote?
To be eligible to vote you must be:
Living or have a residential address in Wales
Aged 16 or over on the 6th of May
Not be legally excluded from voting
This election will be the first opportunity for 16- and 17-year olds to vote in the welsh election marking it as a key election for youth engagement in politics for Wales.
The voting eligibility also allows for students who are studying in Wales which have a residential address and meet the voting criteria to vote in the coming election.
How can I Vote?
To vote in the election you must meet the voting criteria mentioned above as well as be registered to vote. The deadline for this is the 19th of April.
To register to vote you can visit: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
You can vote in person in polling stations across Wales. Though you are required to vote in your registered polling station which is outlined on your polling card.
Postal voting is also an option for many voters who wish to send their vote in advance instead of going to the polling station on polling day. With the Covid-19 pandemic this will be a popular option for many voters this year. The deadline to register for a postal vote for this election is 5pm on 20th of April and votes must be posted before polling day. It is possible to take a postal form to a polling station on polling day if you have failed to send it beforehand. This though must also be the polling station you are registered at.
Proxy voting is also an option in this election. This is where you nominate someone to vote on your behalf in the election, though this person must also be registered to vote in the same election.