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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 17:05 GMT
UK 'not ready' for e-voting
Ballot
Ministers want to trial new voting methods
Hi-tech voting methods using e-mail and text messaging should not be used in next year's European and local polls, according to a new report.

The Electoral Commission backed trials for all-postal ballots but said it was too early to trial the electronic methods aimed at boosting turnout.

The East Midlands and North-East should trial all-postal ballots, it said.

The report said: "The commission does not recommend that an e-enabled element be included in any pilot scheme."

If the recommendations - now to be looked at by the government - are adopted the North-East and East Midlands will not have to have any polling stations in next years elections.

'Risks'

The commission's report says the "risks" involved meant a large trial of internet and text message voting should not go ahead during the June elections.

The commission says Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and West Midlands could potentially also be used for the all-postal pilots despite not meeting all the criteria.

Wales, the South-East, South West and the Eastern regions are not ready for the trials.

The North-East was seen as the most suitable region to pilot all-postal votes because of experience there of similar trials.

And the East Midlands was recommended because it has a relatively small amount of local elections to run next June and as the council structure which can deliver.

Lord Falconer, the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Nick Raynsford, the Local Government Minister, will have the final decision on the trials.

Internet trials?

Roger Creedon, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said small-scale trials of all-postal votes had proved already successful.

"The regional elections for the European Parliament will offer the opportunity to trial on a much larger scale," he told BBC News 24.

Ballots will be posted to voters for the June polls. They can either return them by post or drop them off at special delivery points.

Postal votes are already available on demand and Mr Creedon said the trials would provide lessons before they were rolled out more generally.

"We have come to the view that there is insufficient time for all necessary development work to take place for the elections in June."




SEE ALSO:
E-voting: Democratic or dangerous?
08 Oct 03  |  Americas
Postal vote pilot ruled out
08 Dec 03  |  Scotland



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