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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 May, 2003, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Pilot projects boost ballots

Electronic voting and all-postal ballots have been hailed as a "resounding success" at the local elections.

Figures showed a 21 per cent take-up in pilot areas across the country.

Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford said he was "encouraged and pleased" that so many voters had used new technology to cast their ballots.

E-voting helped increase the turnout figures in Shrewsbury & Atcham (54.45%), and Stratford-on-Avon (35.6%).

'Demonstrates benefits'

And in all-postal ballots, where no polling stations were provided for voters, the turnouts included Herefordshire (61%), Telford & Wrekin (48.65%), East Staffs (44.97%), and North Shropshire (43.8%).

"This is a phenomenal figure which clearly demonstrates the benefits of a postal ballot," said Neil Pringle, chief executive of Herefordshire Council.

"An increase in response rate of this proportion shows that there is a genuine interest in politics at grassroots level and that most people want to have their say - it just has to be on their terms rather than ours."

Shrewsbury & Atcham Council chief executive Robin Hooper said: "Twenty per cent of our voters chose to vote using the internet, phone and digital interactive TV channels and this exceeded our expectations."

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