UK panel recommends postponing elections over coronavirus

UK panel recommends postponing elections over coronavirus
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The United Kingdom’s Electoral Commission recommended the country postpone local elections scheduled for May over concerns about the coronavirus. 

In a letter to Chloe Smith, the minister of state, the panel cited concerns from officials about their ability to conduct safe elections and noted that “significant” numbers of voters “will not have opportunity to vote, or feel inclined to vote” over concerns over the virus over “the direct and indirect impacts of” the coronavirus. 

“The risks to delivery that have been identified are such that we cannot be confident that voters will be able to participate in the polls safely and confidently, nor that campaigners and parties will be able to put their case to the electorate,” the panel wrote.

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“We therefore call on the Government to take steps to provide early clarity to all those with an interest in the electoral process; and on the available information and position we recommend the Government now delay the 7 May polls until the autumn.”

The U.K. is scheduled to have elections on May 7 in several dozen English local councils and will elect several mayors and police and crime commissioners.

However, the country has been struck by 459 confirmed coronavirus cases. Eight people have died.

The elections panel said while the election isn’t for nearly two more months, a decision needs to be made now with preparations already underway.

“Although polling day is not until 7 May, preparations for the elections are already well underway and indeed publication of notice of election – which marks the start of the formal timetable – will take place later this month,” the committee wrote. “This means that a decision now needs to be taken, by Government and as appropriate by Parliament, whether to proceed with the scheduled 7 May polls.”