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Elections 6 May 2021 - frequently asked question

Find more information about our county and parish elections and answers to questions you may have.

About the elections

Information about our County County, Police and Crime Commissioner, and Parish\Town Council elections.

What is the role of a police and crime commissioner elections?

To find out more about the role of a police and crime commissioner go to The role of the Police and Crime Commissoner

What are the local elections for?

County and parish council elections are held every four years to elect councillors who will sit as members of either Durham County Council or a local parish or town council. See our Types of elections page for more information.

What do councillors do and what impact will their presence have on the council?

Councillors are elected to represent their local community. They are able to vote on a variety of issues that affect people's everyday lives but they need to balance the needs and interests of residents, the political party they represent and the council. Their presence can have a direct impact on the everyday business of the council.

How many people are registered to vote in County Durham?

There are 395,298 people registered to vote in County Durham, as of  March 2021.

How many people have postal votes in County Durham?

There are 85,497  postal voters in County Durham, as of March 2021.

How many electoral divisions are there in the county elections?

Voters will be electing 126 councillors who will represent 63 electoral divisions.

What is the current political make-up of the council?

See our Council's political make-up page.

Which party currently controls the council?

The Labour Party currently controls the council.

How many seats does a party have to win to become the majority party?

A party needs to win 64 seats to gain a majority (of 126 seats).

Which parish councils are holding elections?

This information will be available on  Vacancy, Election and Referendum Notices after 9 April 2021.


Information about voting on 6 May 2021.

How do I vote?

You can Apply to vote by post or Apply to vote by proxy at your allocated polling station on election day.

If I am voting in person, what time can I vote?

Polling stations will be open from 7.00am to 10.00pm on Thursday 6 May 2021. 

How will I know where to go to vote?

Your polling card will include the name of your allocated polling station.

How are you making polling stations safe?

We are putting arrangements in place to help ensure polling stations are safe places to vote. You can expect many of the measures you've become used to, such as hand sanitiser, floor markings and face coverings.

We will continue our discussions with public health authorities as we prepare for the elections to make sure we are following the most up to date guidance. Go to Vote in person for further information.

I haven't posted my vote can I take it to a polling station?

If you have forgotten to post your postal vote, you can take it along to your allocated polling station.

Do I need to bring a pen or pencil to cast my vote?

We recommend that you bring your own pen or pencil to clearly mark your ballot paper. We will still provide pencils as usual, but any COVID transmission risk is significantly reduced if you use your own.

I have moved house but I am on the electoral roll at my old address, where do I vote?

Before 20 April 2021: The deadline to register at your new address is midnight Monday 19 April 2021. If you register on or before the deadline date you will be able to vote from the new address. See Apply to vote by post for more information.

After 20 April 2021: (You are too late to register at your new address because the registration deadline has passed. If your previous address was in County Durham and you are still registered here, you can vote using this address, as this is where you are registered on the electoral roll. You) must only vote once in any principle area election.

A polling station lookup service will be available at the end of March 2021.

What's the deadline for applying for a postal vote?

The deadline for applying for a postal vote is Tuesday 20 April 2021.

What's the deadline for applying for a vote by proxy?

The deadline for applying for a vote by proxy is Tuesday 27 April 2021.

What's the deadline for returning my postal vote?

Postal votes must arrive by 10.00pm on Thursday 6 May 2021.

How do I return my completed postal vote?

For the return of completed postal ballot papers, Royal Mail priority post boxes can be used. Priority post boxes have both an early and a late collection time as well as a Saturday and Sunday collection, meaning we could receive your returned postal ballot papers quicker. See Find your nearest priority post box through Royal Mail for information.

Can I stand outside a polling station and approach people about their vote as they go in and out?

Yes. Campaigners should be allowed to put their messages to voters on polling day, including in public spaces outside polling places as long as they do so peacefully and not within or impeding access to the grounds of the polling place.

I've lost my poll card - can I still vote?

Yes, if you lose your polling card you can still vote at your allocated polling station.

How do I find out who I can vote for?

This information will be available on Vacancy, Election and Referendum Notices after 9 April 2021.

Can I go to a different polling station than the one on my poll card?

No, you can only vote at the polling station specified on your polling card. If you have lost your polling card, you can find your allocated polling station.

Can I go into a polling station if I am not voting?

No, you may not. The only people allowed in a polling station are those who are voting.

If someone at a polling station asks me how I have voted do I have to tell them?

You do not have to tell anyone how you have voted.

What do I do if I make a mistake on the ballot paper or I change my mind about who I want to vote for?

If you make a mistake or spoil your paper, you can take it back to the presiding officer and ask for another.

How are presiding officers/polling clerks appointed?

Polling staff are normally appointed from a database of staff maintained by the Returning Officer. Anyone interested in helping us with the elections process is welcome to contact us.

How are the venues for polling stations chosen?

Most polling stations have been in use for several years. They must be located in the electoral area they serve and, as well as the actual polling room, we consider issues such as access and parking. 

Why are schools needed to be polling stations and closed when a closer venue is more appropriate?

Polling stations must be located in the electoral area they serve. Schools are only ever used where there is no viable alternative in the electoral area.

How can I find out information about who is standing for election in my police area?

You will be able to find out information on the candidates standing for election in your police area at Choose my PCC and you will also be able to download a PDF booklet of the candidate details.

If you need a physical copy of the booklet delivered to you, or a version in large print, braille or audio, you can request one by calling 0808 196 2170.

The democratic process

Find out more about the democratic process in County Durham.

If a candidate or agent suspects voter fraud, what can they do?

In the first instance, they should contact the Returning Officer, who may be able to explain whether an electoral fraud has been committed and refer it to the police if necessary.

A candidate has said something I believe to be untrue (on an election communication) - what can I do?

This is part of national civil law. You should consult a solicitor. 

How much am I allowed to spend on my campaign?

See Nomination packs for information.

Contact us
Electoral Services
03000 261 212
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UL
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