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E-voting gets go ahead in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 06:57 24 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

COUNCIL elections in Ipswich will undergo a revolution this May with people allowed to vote over the internet or via their mobile phone, digital television, or touch-tone phone.

COUNCIL elections in Ipswich will undergo a revolution this May with people allowed to vote over the internet or via their mobile phone, digital television, or touch-tone phone.

The Home Office has given approval for 18 English local authorities to take part in an experiment which, if successful, could pave the way for General Elections to be held electronically.

However, Ipswich council leader Peter Gardiner stressed e-voting would not be compulsory and electors would still have the option to go in person to polling stations.

Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford, who hopes the alternative methods will lead to an increase in those voting, said in a Commons written statement: "This year's local elections will be the largest test of the Government's e-voting plans yet, confirming the UK's position as one of the pioneers of e-voting in Europe.

"The 18 local authorities that will trial the new technologies produced proposals that demonstrated they are ready, willing, and able to offer their electors the opportunity to trial 21st century voting techniques."

He added: "The pilots are an important step towards our aim of holding an e-enabled General Election some time after 2006. These innovations will help to make elections more relevant, straightforward and accessible for voters."

In Ipswich, voters will have the opportunity to vote via their digital television sets, text messaging on their mobile phone, the Internet, or touch tone telephone.

Mr Gardiner said: "We were keen to take part in the experiment because of the decline in the number of people going to polling stations to cast their votes."

He said security would be taken "very seriously" and measures put in place would be double checked by the Home Office and the Electoral Commission.

"This is excellent news for those too busy to go to the ballot box and I hope it will encourage more people to take part in local democracy," said Mr Gardiner.

The Home Office decision follows its approval before Christmas for St Edmundsbury to hold a total postal ballot across the borough on May 1.

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