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Voters in Sheffield with queries about electronic voting are coming to Liverpool to get the answers! ...
Voters in Sheffield with queries about electronic voting are coming to Liverpool to get the answers!

The city council's award-winning call centre, Liverpool Direct, is handling enquiries from people in three wards in Sheffield on how to vote in the local elections using pioneering new methods.

Hundreds of people in the Hallam, Nether Edge and Manor wards have called the voter support hotline in Liverpool with questions about how they vote using mobile phone text messaging, internet and digital kiosks.

Text messaging and internet voting is also being piloted in two wards in Liverpool - Everton and Church - together with landline phone voting.

It is the first time ever that such technology has been used during local government elections in Britain.

The software for both pilots is being provided by BT, and Liverpool Direct was chosen to deal with the calls for both because of its expertise in handling enquiries.

The trial is being funded by the department for transport, local government and the regions as part of a drive to introduce 21st century methods at the ballot box.

Each person on the electoral roll in the wards has been sent a sealed ballot card containing detailed instructions on how to vote using their chosen method, along with an 8 digit PIN number and 10 digit password.

Liverpool City Council chief executive David Henshaw said: 'Liverpool Direct is recognised as Britain's leading local government call centre. It made sense for all of the calls from both pilot schemes to be handled here.

'I'm sure the voters of Sheffield found it unusual to hear a scouse accent when they dialled the voter support centre. But, given that we are Britain's call centre capital, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise!

'Our staff are used to dealing with calls of a varying nature and have adapted themselves well to handle calls about a city which is seventy miles away.'

The voter support centre will be open until polls close at 9pm on 2 May.


- Liverpool Direct is the city council's customer contact centre and opened in February 1999.

- It now takes more than 27,000 calls each week

- The two millionth call was taken on 11 December 2001

- Liverpool Direct currently has 210 staff

- It operates 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week and is the biggest council-run customer contact centre in the country

- Liverpool Direct is regarded by Whitehall as a model for the future of local government

- It is part of the city council's£300 million Joint Venture with BT which will see the city council's IT infrastructure transformed, using the latest technology to improve services.

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