`Delight' at e-voting figures

NEARLY 900 electors in Ipswich have pre-registered to vote electronically for the borough council elections in May.Ipswich is taking part in a trial approved by the Government to encourage people to vote by telephone, mobile phone text message, and the internet in an attempt to reverse the decline in the numbers voting at local elections.

By Graham Dines

NEARLY 900 electors in Ipswich have pre-registered to vote electronically for the borough council elections in May.

Ipswich is taking part in a trial approved by the Government to encourage people to vote by telephone, mobile phone text message, and the internet in an attempt to reverse the decline in the numbers voting at local elections.

Throughout England, 18 district and borough councils will allow e-voting as an alternative to going to the polling station or voting by post.


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Jim Hehir, chief executive of the borough council, said he was "absolutely delighted" that in the first three days of registration, 880 people had pre-registered to vote through the trial electronic scheme.

"E-voting gives people the choice of voting online, by text message, by touch-tone phone or using interactive digital television. I want to stress, however that it is not mandatory and electors will still be able to vote in person at a polling station or register for a postal vote.

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"This experiment is all about giving people more choice. It will allow those with busy lifestyles to vote in a manner which is convenient to them."

He added: "We want to increase democracy at a local level by getting a bigger turnout in the borough elections on May 1.

"Tough security measures will be in place and checked by the Government and the Electoral Commission."

Mr Hehir has written to every elector in the borough, reminding them of the voting options available. People who want to use new technology to vote need to register with the Council first by telephoning a special freephone number that they will receive with their letter.

Registration has to be completed by Friday April 11 and voting take place between 8am on April 24 and 9pm on May 1.

Electors who have not received Mr Hehir's letter by Monday should telephone the council's elections department on 01473 432531.

St Edmundsbury borough council is taking part in a different experiment to encourage increased voter interest. The May 1 elections will be by postal vote only, with not polling stations being open.

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