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LOCAL ELECTIONS: POSTAL AND ELECTRONIC VOTING PROVE TO BE A HIT

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All postal voting was a big hit with the public in the local ...
All postal voting was a big hit with the public in the local

elections - with turnout increasing hugely in most of the areas.

Additionally, for the first time ever thousands of people in parts of

the country voted via the internet or by mobile phone text messaging.

Feedback on e-voting has been positive. The systems and software

performed well with no significant problems. In addition they were

well received by those who used them.

Results of this year's electoral pilots include:

* In South Tyneside, where all postal voting was used turnout was 55%

- compared with 27% last time;

* In Swindon 4,293 people voted on line via the council's website -

over 10% of those who voted. In addition over 2,000 voted via touch

telephone - representing 5% of those who voted;

* In the two pilot wards in Sheffield over 30% of those who voted did

so via electronically;

* St Albans announced the first e-voting and counting results of the

local elections just four minutes after the close of poll. In the

two wards piloting e-democracy over half those voting did so online

or by phone (26.5% used the internet and 23.9% the phone).

Local government minister Nick Raynsford said:

'I am delighted that early indications show that the public has

responded positively with thousands choosing to vote in a new, more

convenient way.

'The government is committed to modernising the way we vote - making

the process simpler, more accessible and more efficient while at the

same time maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of the

system. That is why earlier this year we gave 30 councils permission

to pilot new and innovative ways of voting at the local and mayoral

elections.

'All postal voting in particular appears to have had a big impact -

for example Chorley's turnout was 61.47% - almost double previous

figures.

'This is the first time electronic voting and counting has been

piloted on this scale in Europe so I am particularly pleased that

these e-pilots have proved successful. Thousands of people took the

opportunity to use alternative methods of voting. This meant they

could vote securely when they wanted and where they wanted and shows

that e-voting can make a real difference.'

As part of the government's drive to make voting easier and modernise

the electoral process 30 councils were given approval to run

electoral pilots at this year's local and mayoral elections. These

included all postal ballots, voting electronically using mobile phone

text messaging and voting on-line from home, local libraries and

council run information kiosks.

Nick Raynsford added:

'We will learn from these pilots as we have from earlier ones and I

look forward to receiving a full evaluation report from the Electoral

Commission in due course. This will include analysis of public

confidence in the new voting methods as well as on their technical

robustness and will help inform how we extend the pilot programme at

future elections. However there can be no doubt that this marks a

major step forward in modernising our electoral system - particularly

in terms of postal and e-voting.'

Further information on the results of the electoral pilots will be

posted on the DTLR website when they become available.

NOTES

1. Local authorities were invited to become pilots last October.

The successful pilots were announced in February .

A full list of all 30 electoral pilots is attached. For further

details please contact the relevant local authority.

2. The Electoral Commission will undertake an evaluation exercise

that will look at whether or not the pilots:

- Make voting more straightforward for the public;

- Make elections more accessible, either by making it more convenient

to vote or by making voting more attractive to people currently

less likely to vote;

- Make the administration of elections more efficient and cost

effective;

- Maintain or increase the level of security at elections.

A full evaluation report will be sent to the Secretary of State

within three months of the elections.

Local Elections 2002 - All Postal Electoral Pilots

Local Authority Previous Turnout Turnout May 2002

1. Chorley 32% 61.47%

2. Crawley 14% 34.32%

3. Gateshead 30% 57.3%

4. Greenwich (2 wards) n/a 25%

29.2% 31.9%*

5. Hackney 34% 31.5%

6. Havering 37% 45%

7. Middlesborough 29% 41%*

8. North Tyneside 34% n/a*

9. NW Leicestershire

(1 Parish) 40% 34%

10. Preston (2 wards) 38% 16%

49.03% 28.55%

11. South Tyneside 27% 55%*

12. Stevenage 29% 52.9%

13. Trafford 33% 49% *

* Awaiting final validated figures.

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