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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 09:43 GMT
Postal vote pilot ruled out
Ballot paper
Fewer than half the voters turned out
Scotland will not pilot all-postal voting in the European elections, it has been announced.

The Electoral Commission has ruled out testing new voting methods north of the border in the European Parliament elections in June.

It was felt Scotland was well suited for the experiment, but the returning officers said they were short on experience and preparation time.

Postal voting will be tried in north east England and the east Midlands.

They are among nine English regions created for the elections, which will be run under a system of proportional representation.

The use of compulsory postal voting in Scotland was backed by the Scottish Parliament's European and external relations committee.

Significant drop

MSPs narrowly voted in favour of a pilot scheme last month.

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

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

In the light of concerns expressed by all Scottish returning officers about delivering an all-postal pilot, the commission does not feel able to recommend it for a pilot scheme in 2004
Electoral Commission spokesperson
The turnout at the last European Parliament elections was just 24.7% in Scotland.

The UK Government had announced its intention to test postal voting in three regions in the poll on 10 June.

A report published by the Electoral Commission on Monday concluded that nowhere in the UK was ready for the introduction of electronic voting.

It identified the north east of England and the east Midlands as two regions which were equipped for postal voting.

A spokesperson for the commission said Scotland was the area which next best met the criteria.

"However, in the light of concerns expressed by all Scottish returning officers about delivering an all-postal pilot, the commission does not feel able to recommend it for a pilot scheme in 2004," it said.


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


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