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General Election 2019 - Everything you need to know

Voters will be heading back to the polls to cast their ballots on December 12, after MPs agreed to a pre-Christmas election.

Polling cards will be dropping through residents’ letterboxes in the next few days – and Cornwall Council is encouraging people to ‘act sooner rather than later’ if they need a postal vote.

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The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Tuesday, November 26. Completed forms must be received by the Cornwall Council elections team before this deadline.

Postal vote packs will then be issued around November 27 to registered voters who requested them before November 5. Anyone who applied after this date should expect their postal pack during the first week of December. 

Cornwall Council’s Chief Executive and Acting Returning Officer, Kate Kennally, said: “The deadline to register to vote is also Tuesday, November 26. Remember: if you’re not registered and therefore can’t vote, you haven’t got a voice.

“It’s important that people are able to have their say on issues that impact upon us all, so I’d urge everyone of voting age to spend the five minutes it takes to ensure you are registered to vote.”

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of polling day.

In a general election, the UK’s 46 million voters can vote to choose an MP for their area. 

Anyone aged 18 or over can vote, as long as they are registered and a British citizen or qualifying citizen of the Commonwealth or Republic of Ireland. EU citizens cannot vote in a general election unless they have dual nationality.

Voting takes place at local polling stations, set up in places like community centres, churches and schools. Voters put a cross on the ballot paper beside the name of their chosen candidate and drop it into a sealed ballot box.

By visiting the Gov.UK website and filling out the relevant forms. Alternatively, you can register by post

There is also an 'easy-read' guide available.

Parliament is dissolved 25 working days before a general election. Once this happens, MPs will lose their status and the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery issues writs of election to local Returning Officers.

MPs are allowed to carry on casework provided they do not give the impression they remain an MP and the constituents concerned are happy with the arrangement.

Government ministers remain in office and in charge of their departments until a new government is formed.

In the case of a serious event, the Cobra emergency committee would still be activated, with relevant ministers’ present. 

By convention, after Parliament is dissolved, a period called ‘purdah’ begins, when ministers' activities and the use of official resources are restricted. 

Pre-election restrictions also apply to more than 440,000 civil servants working in the UK. They are staff who are politically impartial and work for government departments or agencies. 

In this period, they aren't allowed to do any work for party political purposes. That includes answering queries on new policies outlined in a manifesto, or commenting on proposals. 

So far as local authorities are concerned, they are not affected in the same way as the civil service, but during the period between the notice of an election and the election itself (November 11-December 12), local authorities are restricted in terms of what they can publish and broadcast.

Cornwall Council and its Electoral Services team is responsible for organising all elections in Cornwall – from sending out household enquiry forms to make sure that people are registered to vote, to running count centres during a general election.

There are six parliamentary constituencies in Cornwall. The Isles of Scilly is part of the St Ives parliamentary constituency.

The Electoral Services team manages individual electoral registration, undertakes the annual canvass of all residential households, and publishes the register of electors.

Cornwall Council’s Chief Executive Kate Kennally, who is the Acting Returning Officer for elections in Cornwall, explains: “When I undertake the role of Acting Returning Officer, it’s separate from my responsibilities as the Chief Executive and I’m personally responsible for the effective running of the election. 

“But I am very fortunate in that I have a team of very experienced election staff working in Cornwall, so it’s a responsibility that, whilst significant, is one that is shared, and it’s really exciting to see our democracy in action.

“As somebody who believes very strongly in the importance of our civic and democratic life, it’s always a time that, whilst it’s busy, has a real buzz about it too.

“From the opening of the ballot boxes and getting that first tantalising sense of how the poll’s gone, through to standing on the rostrum and declaring the result, I see that everyone involved at those counts want to stay through until the end – they feel that sense of pride that comes from having been a part of it, and the excitement that the declarations can bring.”

The total paid from the Government’s Consolidated Fund for the costs of the May 2015 UK Parliamentary general election was £114.7m, while 2017’s snap election cost £140m.

A general election in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly costs around £1 million and this is funded by the government using a set sum per constituency. That sum enables the Council to book venues, pay staff, organise the printing and delivery of postal ballots, and make sure an effective election is run to guidelines that are set nationally.

There are 442 polling stations up and down the length of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, with more than 1,500 members of staff involved in making sure polling day runs smoothly.

While most people will find themselves casting their vote in village halls, community centres or schools, a few will find themselves marking their ballots in altogether more unusual locations. 

Here are some of Cornwall’s most unique places where you could be voting next month. 

Caerhays Castle

Some voters in the 2019 general election will be marking their cross in a nineteenth century castle near Truro. The castle dates from 1370 and is set in 100 acre-grounds.

Paradise Park (café area)

People voting in the Hayle area can make their choice surrounded by penguins, parrots and red pandas at Paradise Park wildlife sanctuary.

Polzeath Marine Wildlife area (visitor centre)

In the centre of Polzeath, nestled between the shops and the pitch and putt is Polzeath Marine Centre, which will be turned into a polling station on December 12.

Tolvaddon Fire Station

A meeting room at Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s headquarters in Camborne will double up as a polling station.

Portable cabin, Wheal Martyn Museum

Wheal Martyn is home to the UK’s only china clay mining museum, and its portable cabin will be put to use as a polling station.

Kayak Store, Rising Sun car park, Portmellon

Voters in Portmellon can cast their vote right next to their local – in a kayak store.

Cathedral Offices, Old Cathedral School, Truro

The former school building on Cathedral Close is now called the ‘Old Cathedral School’ and is now used as an office building – and a polling station.

Posted on 14 November