After a morning of showers, the sun was shining on Basingstoke this afternoon (Thursday, May 6) as residents across the borough took to the polls for a bumper day of elections.

People have been voting in Basingstoke’s 18 different wards, as well as for Hampshire County Council and Police and Crime Commissioner roles.

But voting has looked a little different this year, with limited numbers allowed in each polling station, masks mandatory, and even the preference that voters bring their own pen or pencil in order to comply with coronavirus guidance.

The Gazette visited the town centre this afternoon to gauge the general mood of the Basingstoke population on this historic polling day.

Support worker Andy Geeson from Worting will be voting after his shift.

He said: “Not everyone in the world can vote so it’s important as we’re very fortunate”, adding that he’s not worried “in the least” about heading to the polling station in Buckskin despite Covid, because “you can see that everyone is trying their best to comply with guidelines”.

One Rooksdown voter, who did not want to be named, said she was “not worried at all” about casting her vote in person later today, and felt a responsibility to vote.

“I had it drummed into me that people died for your votes, so it’s important to use them,” she said.

Meanwhile Chris Wood, 64, lives near the town centre and had just voted at the council offices.

“It was absolutely fine, not busy at all,” she said.

Chris added that she was especially keen to use her vote today “after all that has happened” over the past year.

On the other hand, Scott Young, 28, and Lauren Cobb, 27, from Eastrop were out shopping at Festival Place, and didn’t realise it was polling day.

Scott said he didn’t plan on making it to the polls before they shut at 10pm, adding: “It comes down to not caring. They need to advertise it a bit more.

“A lot of people my age don’t know about that sort of thing."

80-year-old Michael Harold from Mapledurwell shared this sentiment, saying: “Young people seem not to do so [vote] much any more. They’re either not aware or don’t seem to take much interest.”

Michael voted by post in the Basing and Upton Grey ward, and says he’s submitted his ballot that way for many years, but anticipates a bigger move towards that method since the pandemic.

“It’s like getting groceries delivered to our home - we never did before but now I can’t imagine we’ll step foot in a supermarket again!”

Echoing the mood of many today, he added: “If you are given the opportunity to vote, you’d be stupid not to do it.”