Plans for people to be able to vote in shops and schools at the next council elections are being drawn up by the Welsh Government.

It is part of a plan to boost voter turn out and make it "as easy as possible to vote".

The Welsh Government is exploring with local authorities whether flexible voting pilots will be able to take place in next year's local government elections.

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Voter turnout at the last local government elections was just 42% in 2017, compared with 47% at the Senedd election in 2021 and 66.6% for the General election in 2019.

With 16 and 17 year olds now being allowed to vote in elections in Wales, it is hoped that by having polling stations in schools and colleges it will boost turnout in these ages.

Consideration is also being given to sites such as leisure centres and supermarkets to make access easier for voters in more familiar environments.

Flexible voting could also see polling stations open the day before or the weekend before an election, or across multiple days. The plan is for it to supplement postal voting as a way to give people more options to vote in advance.

People may also be able to vote at any polling station in a local authority area, instead of having to vote at an appointed polling station. This is currently based on where a person lives, but may not always be the most convenient location.

Digital solutions around electoral registers would be required to facilitate some of these ideas and pilots would help develop a thorough understanding of how this would work best.

The Welsh Government outlined these ideas in a letter to the Welsh Local Government Association, with the intention to explore them further in next May’s elections. Local authorities are now considering whether they would like to progress any of these ideas for the 2022 local elections.

If any of the suggestions are taken up, they could inform arrangements for future elections including the Senedd election in 2026 and the local government elections in 2027.

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Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for Constitution, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to vote, which is why we’re looking at making voting possible in more places, including in shops and schools. Democracy should be a part of all our lives and if more of us take part, it will lead to better policy making by elected representatives and policies which truly represent the views and experiences of all of us.

“These voting pilots will help us to better understand how we can increase turnout. We believe making voting more flexible and easier will bring democracy closer to everyone.”

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, added: "We have had constructive discussions with the Welsh Local Government Association about the need to modernise the way elections work. We’re now encouraging local authorities to step forward and play a part in shaping the future of elections in Wales. Piloting new approaches at the elections in May 2022 would be the first step in a longer term process that could see radical changes to how people exercise their democratic right to vote across the whole of Wales in future.”

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Welsh Local Government Association Leader said: “A healthy democracy relies on good engagement and accessible elections which fit the modern needs of people in local communities. Constructive discussions have already begun with Welsh Government to look at new ways to bring democracy closer to the people, and we will look forward to exploring the practicalities of rolling out these ideas in communities across Wales.”