They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and if you want to vote at this year’s local elections then truer words were never spoken.

That is because Covid safety rules mean that if you want to put an X next to your preferred candidate when you enter the polling booth tomorrow (Thursday), you will have to bring your own pen or pencil to do it.

There are a number of other additional safety measures that will make this election very different from all the others which have gone before.

Organisers of this year’s elections said voting in person should still only take a few minutes but that there will be additional arrangements in place to allow for social distancing, with staff managing how many people are allowed inside at any one time.

This means that voters may be asked to queue to enter their polling station. Polling stations will be open 7am – 10pm, and anyone in the queue at 10pm will still be able to vote.

In addition, voters will be asked to do the following: Wear a face covering Bring their own pen or pencil Clean their hands when entering and leaving the polling station Keep a safe distance Once votes are cast the counting process will also be different this year, this is due to reduced staff numbers to allow for social distancing coupled with additional votes for things like the Metro Mayor and Crime Commissioner elections.

In Halton, this means council votes will not be counted until Friday.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “The elections will look a little different this year to previous elections.

“Local authorities have been working to ensure polling stations and count venues will be safe places to vote, and to work.

“As a result of these safety measures, some processes may take longer than usual.”