Almost 8,000 sign up to e-vote

ALMOST 8,000 people have signed up to vote using 21st century technology in next month's Ipswich Borough Council elections.Dubbed 'e-voting', the scheme will allow people to cast their vote using text messaging, e-mail, a touch-tone phone or interactive TV, as well as the more traditional methods.

ALMOST 8,000 people have signed up to vote using 21st century technology in next month's Ipswich Borough Council elections.

Dubbed 'e-voting', the scheme will allow people to cast their vote using text messaging, e-mail, a touch-tone phone or interactive TV, as well as the more traditional methods.

Although 18 other councils across the country are taking part in the experiment, Ipswich Borough Council is carrying out the most extensive trial.

And, as the deadline for registration passed on Friday night, some 7,863 people had signed up to use the new technology in the May 1 elections.


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James Hehir, council chief executive and returning officer, said: "We are delighted with the number of people who have registered.

"It's too early to tell how it will affect turnout – it depends what happens on the day, but certainly I think that nearly 8,000 people can't be wrong and it's been well worth doing."

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Mr Hehir explained that those who have registered will now get a unique pin number which they can use to cast their vote on the day of the elections.

He added: "The idea was to get more people from all parts of the community involved in voting and I hope we've done that.

"There is really no excuse at all now for not turning up and voting."

Peter Gardiner, Borough Council leader, said he saw the numbers as 'very positive', and hoped many of those who have registered will be new voters.

"The uptake is far greater than we had anticipated," he added. "Of course, we don't yet know how many of those will be new voters or simply voting in a different way.

"We hope that, by increasing the methods of voting, we will get some new voters, especially among young people.

"Hopefully, if people have gone to the trouble of registering then it's pretty obvious they will go to the trouble of actually voting, which is great."

But Cllr Gardiner warned: "I think people will only be satisfied when they see that it actually does work and there is security in the way that it's done – I am hopeful that this trial will prove that."

Voters were given five weeks to sign up for the scheme, which was launched at the beginning of March with a blaze of publicity.

Letters were sent out to all voters making them aware of e-voting, while e-flyers were also distributed to the town's major employers and businesses.

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