Published: 10:50, 09 April 2021
| Updated: 10:56, 09 April 2021
The county council election campaign in Kent will begin in earnest today after the full list of candidates contesting the 81 seats up for grabs was published.
Polling day is May 6 and, with the campaign being fought in the shadow of the Covid-19 crisis, there will be a different set of challenges for candidates and voters in what has been dubbed “Super Thursday”.
Voters will have to wear masks in polling stations and are being encouraged to take their own pencils to vote.
Election officials have warned there could also be delays and queues to comply with social distancing requirements.
Voters will also be expected to use hand sanitisers at polling stations.
Because elections for councils were put on hold last year, some voters in the county could have as many as four votes.
In addition to the county council election there will also be the election for the next Kent police and crime commissioner.
This was scheduled to take place last year but was postponed because of the coronavirus crisis, along with district council elections.
That affected polls in two parts of the county – Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells – where a third of seats in each are being contested.
The government has insisted that preparations for the elections will mitigate against the possible risk of transmission of Covid-19.
There have been some changes to voting arrangements, notably the practice of driving voters to polling stations.
In its “delivery plan” issued in February, the government said it would be recommending that political parties and candidates do not engage in the common practice of offering car lifts to members of the public to and from polling stations, given this has been identified as a particular risk of spreading the virus.
Election officials in the county have said preparations for the poll had meant additional pressures and a potential increase in the costs as a result of ensuring staff at counts and at polling stations were adequately protected.
At the last election, in 2017, the Conservatives romped to victory, securing a large majority.
For the full list of candidates, click here.