Vote 2021: Polling day for biggest set of elections outside a general election in nearly 50 years

The polls have opened for the UK’s biggest set of elections outside a general election in almost 50 years – and you’ll need to bring your own pencil.

Voters will cast their ballots despite the many COVID-19 restrictions still in place, with 48 million people given the chance to have their say.

While lockdown measures have been easing in recent weeks, the pandemic will still infringe on usual polling station norms as voters will have to wear a face covering and are asked to bring their own pen or pencil, according to guidance on the Electoral Commission’s website.

In Scotland and Wales, the electorate will decide on their national representatives in Holyrood and the Senedd respectively. In Wales, young people aged 16 and over will get the chance to vote for the first time.

Elsewhere there are a total of 143 different councils running elections today, while in Hartlepool voters are deciding who should represent them in Westminster.

There are also 13 mayoral elections, including for the London mayor, and 39 police and crime commissioner elections across England and Wales after these votes were postponed in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

COVID-19 is still having an effect on voting today, with strict limits on how many people can be inside a polling station, face masks required and social distancing for those volunteering to help out.

People have also been told not to offer anyone outside of their bubble a lift to the polling station, something political parties usually do to encourage people to vote.

Experts predict many more people will have applied for a postal vote this year because of the restrictions.

In Oxford, some voters have cast their ballots in a car boot after the church warden opening a polling station "overslept".

Toby Porter said he cast his vote at 7.25am, and the normal polling station was "up and running" by 7.30am.

He said around a dozen people voted in the car before the centre at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies was opened.

Laura Lock, deputy chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, said some polling stations in cars are seen at each election.

"All polling station staff are trained on how to set up temporary polling stations for cases just like this," she said.

"Unfortunately we do find key holders oversleeping, so every election we see a handful of polling stations in cars until access to the building can be sorted."

Polls will close at 10pm and you do not need a polling card to vote, though you must be registered.

The results will emerge in the coming days, with some not expected until late on Sunday.

Watch a special programme from midnight tonight on Sky News – and follow all the results online and on the Sky News app.

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