The first votes for the new Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner are in.
Although the election does not officially take place until Thursday, officials have started opening and scanning the postal ballot papers that have been sent in.
To ensure secrecy, returned postal votes contain a form completed by the elector with their signature and date of birth, and an inner sealed envelope containing their ballot papers.
The date of birth and signature are checked against the original postal vote application using scanning equipment and software.
This can lead to some ballot envelopes being rejected, if the postal voter’s date of birth or signature does not match.
If they do match, the envelopes are taken to the next stage where they are opened and the ballot papers are put in a ballot box, without being examined to see whom the sender has voted for.
The boxes are kept secure, ready to be taken to the count on Friday, when they will be tallied alongside the votes cast in person on election day.
The Avon and Somerset PCC candidates are Pete Levy (Lib Dem), Ken Maddock (Conservative), Sue Mountstevens (Independent) and John Savage (Labour).
Polling stations will be open on Thursday from 7am to 10pm.
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