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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 14:13 GMT
Action needed on voter turnout
Ballot paper
Fewer than half the voters turned out
Almost half of those who failed to turnout at the Scottish Parliament elections might have voted if they could have used their mobile phone.

Research by the Electoral Commission also found strong support for postal voting.

Sir Neil McIntosh, Scotland's electoral commissioner, said that the public was interested in politics but more needed to be done to improve voter turnout.

The commission is an independent body, set up by the UK Parliament, with a statutory duty to encourage participation in elections.

Poor election turnout

Fewer than half of the electorate cast their vote at the Holyrood and local government elections on 1 May, a significant drop on previous polls.

The commission's report showed that postal, internet and weekend voting were popular among those who failed to turn out.

It said that 49% of non-voters would have used their mobile phone to register their decision.

Commission bosses cited the Iraq war, the Sars outbreak, disillusionment with the main political parties and the Holyrood building fiasco as factors in the poor election turnout.

The report showed that voters could identify little difference between the main parties and that the election campaign was viewed as "lacklustre".

Voting by mobile is at an early stage

Sir Neil said: "Part of the feedback from the research was that a substantial proportion who did not vote didn't see enough of a difference between the parties which would motivate them to go out and vote."

He also pointed out that the number of spoilt ballot papers had increased, with many being left blank by dissatisfied voters.

Electoral Commission chairman Sam Younger stressed any changes to the voting system were a long way off.

He said that while the popularity of postal voting was on the increase, the use of hi-tech technology was "at a much, much earlier stage".

Postal voting

It is expected postal voting will be tried for the European Elections in Scotland next year.

The use of compulsory postal voting in Scotland at the European Parliament elections won the support of MSPs on Tuesday.

Holyrood's European and external relations committee narrowly agreed to back the pilot scheme.

The committee's decision will be forwarded to the Electoral Commission, which will give Constitutional Affairs Secretary Lord Falconer its recommendations by the end of this month.

Voting revamp on the cards
11 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Bid to increase voter turnout
26 Mar 03  |  Scotland

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