BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Postal voting boosts turnout
E-voting being tested
Some people cast their votes online
Postal voting has been judged an unqualified success in the 2002 local elections, boosting turnout by an average of 28% in areas where it was trialled.

Turnout
Postal voting +28%
E-voting +5%
Online voting +1%
No experiment +4%

Senior figures indicated that the idea could now be rolled out to other parts of the country, although ministers are waiting for a report assessing the impact of postal votes from the Electoral Commission by the end of July.

Meanwhile, online voting was less of a success producing just a 1% increase in turnout.

Overall turnout was up about 4% on the 2000 local elections.

'Too early to say'

The all-postal vote in Stevenage Borough saw 52.9% of the electorate taking up their democratic right to vote, compared with 29% in 2000.

And turnout in the all-postal ballot at Havering Borough, east London, was 46%.

Asked whether postal ballots could be used more in parliamentary polls, a Downing Street spokesman said: "It is too early to say what impact postal ballots will have on future elections."

A move to widescale postal ballots would need legislation.

Reversal of fortunes

Postal voting was among a raft of measures tried out to make it easier for people to cast their vote.


I would be surprised if in local elections there are not more postal ballots next time around

Charles Clarke
Labour Party chairman
Labour Party chairman Charles Clarke added his voice to those welcoming the apparent success of the system.

"I think the initial results yesterday seem very impressive," he said.

"I would be surprised if in local elections there are not more postal ballots next time around, though it will be for the political parties to agree or disagree.

"I think it is unlikely for the next General Election, but I could see it happening in two or three General Elections."

Tests of new technologies and voting methods took place in 30 towns.

Areas where no experimental voting has taken place, have seen a 5% increase in turnout.

This appears to have reversed the steady decline over recent years.

Crime

The unexpected increase in turnout in 2002 follows one of the most high-profile local election campaigns in recent years.

The prospect of the far right BNP gaining seats in some North West towns was used to mobilise activists for the three main parties.

High-profile rows about locally-focused issues such as crime and transport have also highlighted the differences between the main parties.

St Albans cathedral, PA
St Albans hosted an historic voting test

Parts of Liverpool and Sheffield tested e-voting, including mobile phone text messaging and using local digital television.

Parts of Crewe and Nantwich, St Albans and Swindon tried internet voting from home, local libraries and council-run information kiosks.

Gateshead, North Tyneside, Stevenage and Chorley tested all-postal ballots.

Caution urged

The London boroughs of Camden and Wandsworth, as well as Chester, Rugby and Broxbourne tried electronic counting, early voting and extended polling hours.

The Electoral Reform Society has backed new voting schemes but urged caution over security before holding large-scale online elections.

Opponents of online voting argue that it is too easily exploited by electoral fraudsters and discriminates against those without internet access or who are not computer-literate.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Bilton
reports on new voting methods

Key stories

Analysis

A-Z OF COUNCILS

HAVE YOUR SAY

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

05 Feb 02 | UK Politics
05 Feb 02 | UK Politics
07 Jan 02 | dot life
28 Mar 01 | UK Politics
19 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail this story to a friend



© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes