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 A/V REPORTS
BBC Wales's Caroline Evans reports
"Wales officials set up booths"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
Wales moves slowly to the polls

Polling stations in Wales have seen a "slow but steady" stream of voters taking part in the first general election of the new millennium.

After a month of intense campaigning by the politicians, the fate of the parties is now in the hands of the electors.

Officials set up booths and were open for business by 0700BST and will close at 2200BST on Thursday.

Welsh Assembly chamber
Wales now has a second tier of goverment
The parties are hopeful that the fine weather will help encourage a good turnout.

Wales traditionally records a comparatively high turn-out at elections.

Councils across the country have said the early morning turn-out broadly matched that seen at recent polls.

In Wales, 40 seats are being contested.

At the last election Labour held 34 seats, Plaid Cymru four, and the Liberal Democrats two.

The Conservatives did not return any Westminster MPs in Wales at that election.

This is also the first general election since the setting up of the Welsh Assembly in May 1999.

The next election for the 60 assembly seats is due to be held in May 2003.

Most politicians have spent weeks telling us that the only poll that counts is on 7 June.

The day is now here and around 70,000 electors in each Welsh seat now have the task of choosing the next government.

In Wales, over 2 million people are entitled to vote at around 2,500 polling stations.

But this election is different from those in the past.

Postal vote

Worried about voter apathy, the government has widened the use of the postal vote and many electors will have voted ahead of polling day.

But returning officers have stressed that people can still vote in person at polling stations if they have not received their postal vote, or if they have not posted it in time.

With all the parties urging electors to get out and vote, they should be helped by the weather.

Sunny spells and fairly warm temperatures are forecast for most of Britain, although there will be some showers.

The first results in Wales are expected before midnight on Thursday, and the last half way through the night.

By Friday morning the new Westminster map of Wales will be known.

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07 Jun 01 |  Wales
Thursday gets the vote
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