Postal vote warning for Bristol mayor referendum
TIME is running out for anyone who wants to register for a postal vote in the upcoming elected mayor referendum.
Bristol will go to the polls on Thursday, May 3, to decide whether it should have a directly-elected mayor.
The deadline to apply to vote is 5pm on Wednesday, April 18.
In Bristol there are local elections every year for three years and then a year off. As 2012 is the "year off", no other elections will be held on May 3.
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Concerns have been raised on all sides of the debate that this will mean a low turnout at the referendum, despite the significance of the decision.
An elected mayor would replace the leader of Bristol City Council – currently the Liberal Democrats' Barbara Janke – with a new position that would be voted for directly by the people every four years.
If Bristol says "yes" in next month's referendum, the first elected mayor election would take place in November.
A "speakers corner" debate was due to take place today on College Green to give supporters of the "yes" and the recently launched "no" campaign the chance to argue whether an elected mayor is a good thing for the city or not.
The next public debate is set to take place on April 23 at Bristol Grammar School at 6.30pm.
Campaigners in favour of an elected mayor are urging people who cannot to get to a polling station on the day to register for a postal vote.
Jason Budd, a spokesman for the "yes" campaign, said: "The new postal voting system was a very important change which the last Labour government brought in.
"With no local election happening in Bristol this year, people might find it more convenient to vote by post rather than going to a polling booth.
"Postal voting is a great way to take part in the democratic process.
"Whether you go to a polling booth on May 3, or vote by post, our message is: everybody please use your vote."
To get a postal vote you have to tick the option on your application form to "register to vote".
So if you are not yet registered, you have until next Wednesday to complete the paperwork, which you can download from the Bristol City Council website.
To avoid having to go to the polling station on the day, tick the postal vote option: www.bristol.gov.uk/page/register-vote Finally, post the form to: Electoral Services, FREEPOST (NAT 11762), Bristol, BS1 5BR (no stamp is required).