VOTERS are heading to the polls today to elect a new Welsh government, and Newport was the scene of plenty of busy polling stations in the afternoon and evening.

Voting opened at 7am and people can cast their vote until 10pm today (Thursday, May 6).

Social distancing measures meant longer queues, and early signs suggested that this year’s election could see higher turnouts than in previous years.

South Wales Argus:

Mandy Horton was one of a number of people filing out of Malpas Community Centre and Library shortly after 5pm. She said she believed the pandemic had made people more aware of the Senedd, which she said bodes well for turnout.

“People are even more opinionated now [after the pandemic],” she said. “I didn’t know what the Senedd was before the pandemic – but I certainly do now.

“We’ve heard people moaning for a year. Well, if you feel that strongly – go out and make your vote count today. I think that is what we are seeing.”

South Wales Argus: Mount Pleasant Primary, RogerstoneMount Pleasant Primary, Rogerstone

At Mount Pleasant Primary School in Rogerstone, Claire – who didn’t want her surname to be published – said she was more than happy to stand in a 30-minute queue with her young boys to cast her vote.

“I’m a firm believer that as a woman people fought for me to be able to vote, and I should exercise that right when the opportunity arises,” she said.

South Wales Argus: Claire at Mount Pleasant PrimaryClaire at Mount Pleasant Primary

“I’m not surprised by the long queues. I think people understand Welsh politics more after what we’ve been through during the pandemic. Before coronavirus I wouldn’t have been able to pick the first minister out of a crowd, but now we feel we know him.”

South Wales Argus: Malpas Community Centre and Library Malpas Community Centre and Library

Clare Pimm said: “We’ve seen games played at the top of politics in England and Wales over the last year.

“I have been stuck at home with my two kids for that time, and I feel we’ve been in between those games.”


South Wales Argus: Queues outside Malpas Park PrimaryQueues outside Malpas Park Primary

She said she would like the next Welsh government to have a more joined up approach with Westminster.

Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford is favourite to continue as first minister, but a YouGov poll released on Wednesday showed the Conservatives were on course for a five per cent increase in their votes from the 2016 elections.

It projects Labour would still be the biggest party in Wales, with the Conservatives in second, and Plaid Cymru in third.

South Wales Argus: Paul Gardiner and daughter AmeliaPaul Gardiner and daughter Amelia

Paul Gardiner, who spoke to us as he was heading out of Malpas Park Primary School on Thursday afternoon, said: “I came here to vote for the [M4] relief road. Why waste £100,000 on looking at doing the road, and then not bother doing it? I think it’s time to give Wales a fresh chance.”

Some were more concerned over the lengthy waiting time at the polls rather than on the M4 on Thursday, though, and the fact half the ballot paper was in Welsh.

Michael O’Shea, who voted at Malpas Park Primary, said: “I don’t think the ballot papers should be in Welsh at all. It’s the United Kingdom. I was born in Wales and I’m proud of that, but it really annoys me seeing all this Welsh.

“I found the whole experience annoying and difficult to follow. Here’s the problem – there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”