postal ballots in this week's local elections show good levels of
turnout and in some areas are already exceeding comparable recent
Local government secretary Stephen Byers said:
'These figures show that electoral apathy doesn't rule and that when
voting is made easy and convenient people will take part.
'That has been the motive behind this year's innovations in voting.
We shall analyse the results carefully but the early signs are that
all postal votes are popular with the electorate.'
As part of the government's drive to make voting easier and modernise
the electoral process 30 councils were given approval to run
electoral modernisation pilots in this week's local and mayoral
elections. 13 councils, including all those listed below, are running
all postal ballots. All pilot authorities had to command broad cross
party support for their proposals before getting the go-ahead from
As of 30 April 2002 those authorities running all postal ballots that
have placed information in the public domain have so far received the
following percentage of returned ballot papers.
Local authority Recent turnout % of postal ballot forms
received to date
Chorley 32% 53%
Gateshead 30% 46%
Hackney 34% About 20%
Middlesbrough 29% 34%
Preston (in 2 wards only) 38%, 16% 30%, 22%
South Tyneside 27% 46%
Stevenage 29% 46%
Trafford 33% 42%
The close of poll occurs on 2 May after which more comprehensive
information on turnout and the method of turnout will be available.