DON’T let anyone persuade you that one vote does not make a difference. I have twice been in the counting hall when candidates had an equal number of ballots. One more voter would have decided the result.

In a heart-stopping moment at the last borough council elections, I had to resolve the deadlock by drawing at random a marked ballot paper from a ballot box to select the winner.

Every election has its share of surprises. Lively campaigns, the British weather and, as Harold Macmillan apparently said, ‘events, dear boy, events’, all add to the drama. 

This year’s county council and police commissioner elections on 6 May, with the Witley neighbourhood plan referendum, could be the most unusual yet, taking place with masks, social distancing and hand sanitiser.

Waverley council staff have been working extremely hard to support our communities and the NHS, and deliver our important everyday services, during the pandemic. No-one was furloughed and many diverted from their day jobs to help the most vulnerable. I have never been more proud to work in public services.

At the same time, we have been preparing for the elections. The massive logistics include assessing how to make polling stations Covid-safe, changes to the nominations process to reduce physical contact, recruiting enough staff, and figuring out how the count can be both transparent and socially distant.

Polling stations will look different this year. Voters are asked to wear masks as we do in the shops, unless exempt, and to bring a pen or pencil. There will be clean pencils available, hand sanitiser, one-way systems, regular cleaning and socially distanced queueing.

More people than ever have opted to vote by post. At 27 per cent, Waverley has the highest proportion of postal voters in Surrey, partly a result of writing to voters earlier this year to remind them of the options.

While electoral registration, proxy and postal vote application deadlines have passed, anyone who suddenly cannot vote in a polling station due to illness can apply for an emergency proxy before 5pm on May 6. Further information is online at

We have been working hard to allow our 95,000 electors to mark their ballots and to make sure that every single vote matters.