Herts County Council election results 'not expected until Saturday evening' as ballot papers go into quarantine
Ballot papers used in local elections in Hertfordshire on Thursday (May 6) are in quarantine today (Friday) as a Covid-19 precaution, delaying the results until well into the weekend.
The Hertfordshire County Council election counts will take place on a district-by-district basis on Saturday (May 8) at 10 centres across the county.
The full composition of the new council – for which all 78 seats were contested on Thursday – is not expected to be known until Saturday evening.
Before the election, the Conservatives had 50 seats, the Liberal Democrats 18 and Labour 10. The Tories have controlled Herts County Council since 2001 and for two-thirds of the authority's history since it was established in 1973.
In East Herts district, where there are 10 county council seats – three each for Bishop's Stortford and Hertford, two for Ware, one for Sawbridgeworth and one for Buntingford – the count will take place at Wodson Park Sports and Leisure Centre in Ware from 9.30am.
The 10 district and borough councils in Hertfordshire are responsible for all elections in their own areas.
A spokesman for East Herts Council said: “The Hertfordshire director of public health has advised that to mitigate Covid-19 risks, ballot papers should be quarantined for at least 24 hours after the close of poll before ballot boxes are opened.
“In addition, attendees will be required to wear face coverings, transparent screens will separate count staff from observers and counting teams from each other. A larger area than usual is being utilised to enable distancing and the event is subject to restricted capacity.”
The count centres for the 10 districts and boroughs in Herts are:
- Broxbourne – Laura Trott Leisure Centre, Cheshunt
- Dacorum – Everyone Active, Hemel Hempstead
- East Herts – Wodson Park, Ware
- Hertsmere – The Radlett Centre, Radlett
- North Herts – North Herts Leisure Centre, Letchworth
- St Albans – Batchwood Sports Centre, St Albans
- Stevenage – Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre
- Three Rivers – Watersmeet Theatre, Rickmansworth
- Watford – Watford Colosseum
- Welwyn Hatfield – Roller City Campus West, Welwyn Garden City
Votes for the new Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) will not be tallied until Monday (May 10).
Requests for postal votes increased as electors went to the polls in a pandemic.
According to East Herts Council – which was responsible for the county council and PCC elections as well as a number of by-elections in the district – it received 19,289 registrations out of an electorate of 112,997 – 17.07%.
By comparison, at the last local elections in Stortford, May 2019’s district and town council polls, there were 16,617 postal voters out of an electorate of 109,917 (15.11%). That means there are an additional 2,672 postal voters, albeit within a larger electorate.
In Bishop’s Stortford, in addition to picking the town's three Herts county councillors, voters were choosing new district and town councillors for All Saints ward following the resignation of Liberal Democrat Louie Corpe.