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LOCAL ELECTIONS: TURNOUT BOOST - THE BEST NEWS IN AGES FOR DEMOCRACY BUT THE SYSTEM IS STILL FAILING VOTERS

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The Electoral Reform Society, the body which has been monitoring and ...
The Electoral Reform Society, the body which has been monitoring and

commenting on elections in the UK for over 118 years, has welcomed the boost

in turnout in yesterday's local government elections in England.

'A turnout of around 35% is still not good, but it is an increase of about

4% and a step in the right direction,' said Ken Ritchie, chief executive of

the Electoral Reform Society.

'At these elections there were a number of pilot schemes aimed at boosting

turnout. The biggest success seems to have come with the use of all-postal

voting, where turnouts rose by an average of 28% and more than doubled in

many areas. We need to check to ensure that the integrity of the election

has not been compromised.

'The jury is still out on voting methods such as internet, telephone and

text message voting. Turnouts in wards trying these did not jump by any more

than the national average. We need to study the reasons for this in some

depth and perhaps try again next year.'

A report by the Independent Commission on Alternative Voting Methods

(established by the Electoral Reform Society) identified postal voting as

able to increase turnout at a manageable costs with access equal to all.

ELECTIONS 2002 - THE SYSTEM IS STILL FAILING VOTERS

The Electoral Reform Society has condemned the voting system

which continues to deny many voters the councillors and councils they voted

for.

* Labour retained overall control of Croydon LBC, winning 37 seats

on 38% of the vote. The Conservatives won 45% of the votes but just 32

seats.

* In Sutton, the Liberal Democrats retained control winning 43 out of

54 seats on just 48% of the vote.

* In Oxford, despite winning nearly 10,000 votes, there was not a

single Conservative councillor elected.

'These elections have proved that the first-past-the-post system denies many

voters the representatives of their choice,' said Mr Ritchie. 'It is an unfair system and should be replaced as soon as possible.

'A voting system should ensure that all significant points of view are

represented in proportion to their strength in the ballot box. It should

mean that the most popular party should at least have a stake in running the

council and that one party should not be able to dominate on a minority of

the vote.

'In both Scotland and Wales, the devolved institutions have set up

fundamental reviews of the way local government is elected and works. In

Scotland, the review has finished and recommended a move to the proportional

STV system. In Wales, the review will finish in June and a similar report is

expected.'

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