Almost a quarter of Sunderland’s voters cast a ballot before polling stations even opened on voting day (Thursday, May 2).
According to figures from Sunderland City Council, 48,645 postal votes had been returned by close of business on May 1.
There are 207,401 on the city’s electoral register, of which 88,032 had opted to make their choice by post.
2018’s round of local elections saw 68,991 cast a ballot – including spoiled ballots – meaning only about 20,000 voters would need to visit their local polling station today to beat the turn out.
But it would still be a far cry from 2015, when many of the candidates hoping for re-election today were last returned to the council chamber, which saw more than half of the city turn out.
However, that day also included the general election which returned the first Conservative majority government since the fall of John Major.
UKIP was a key force that day, scooping about 20 per cent of the overall popular vote after standing candidates in all but one of the city’s wards.
The party failed to field a single candidate last year (2018), but is back again this time around.
One voter in Silksworth who did not want to be named said she was opting for the eurosceptic party because she was concerned about Brexit and other national issues.
She added: “I don’t think that the council carries out the will of the people, I think they need a bit of a shock.
“I think it would be nice in Sunderland if there was a change.”
A third of the city’s 75 council seats are up for grabs today.
The ruling Labour Party regime currently holds 60, meaning even if the party suffered a disastrous night and lost in every ward, it would still be the biggest single group, although short of an overall majority.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service