2021 Scottish Parliament election: voting date, will it go ahead during pandemic and will there be a postal vote?

Scotland goes to the polls on May 6 later this year

Scots go to the polls on May 6, 2021 (Getty Images)
Scots go to the polls on May 6, 2021 (Getty Images)

We are in the year of a Scottish Parliament election, with voters once again set to decide on the makeup of the Holyrood parliament.

The Scottish National Party, led by Nicola Sturgeon, currently hold 63 of the 129 seats up for grabs – just two short of a majority – and at this early stage the party leadership is confident of scooping a majority come May.

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Their main opposition comes in the form of the Scottish Conservatives, led by Douglas Ross; Scottish Labour who are currently without a leader, the Scottish Greens headed by Patrick Harvie and the Scottish Liberal Democrats steered by Willie Rennie.

When is the Scottish Parliament election?

The vote is scheduled to take place on May 6, later this year.

It is expected that the Parliament will be dissolved on March 25, with campaigning getting underway a day later on March 26.

How could the pandemic impact the election?

The poll is expected to go ahead as planned on 6 May, according to the Scottish Government.

The Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill, published on December 23, has been drafted to provide powers, if needed, to conduct the election differently.

The legislation contains contingency options for the election. These contingency options include allowing voting to take place on more than one day and an earlier deadline for postal voting.

Will there be a postal vote?

As with previous Scottish Parliament elections there will be the option to vote by post. This is expected to be more popular due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An earlier deadline for postal vote applications of 6 April rather than 20 April to give more time for these to be processed given expected increase in demand has also been introduced.

You can register to vote by post at gov.uk.

How do I register to vote?

The quickest way to register is online. You will need you National Insurance number to hand.

If you're a British citizen living abroad, and you want to vote in Scotland you will need your passport, too.

Head to the Government's registration page. The process should only take about five minutes.