Framlingham: Newly elected county councillor would like to see elections at weekends to address falling turnouts

Stephen Burroughes, county councillor for Framlingham

Stephen Burroughes, county councillor for Framlingham

A newly elected county councillor is calling for elections to be held on a weekend in a bid to encourage greater participation.

Framlingham’s Stephen Burroughes said he would like to see the voting day switched from the traditional Thursday in an attempt to reverse falling turnouts and encourage younger people to engage.

He is now writing to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Electoral Commission to request the matter be reviewed.

Suffolk County Council said the turnout for its elections earlier this month was 31% (175,424 people out of 565,906 registered to vote). In Mr Burroughes’ Suffolk Coastal division it was 34%.

He said: “People stayed away from the polling stations by the shed load and appeared to turn their back on democracy, losing the chance to decide on issues which directly affect them.

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“Apart from a degree of apathy, many other electors are simply too busy with work, children and going about their normal business to remember to cast their vote.

“Moving the day of an election to a weekend would be more convenient and allow voters more time to get to the polls.

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“A lot of people I have spoken to support the idea, saying it would be much more convenient and might encourage younger electors to ‘drop in’ and vote.

“Many countries hold elections over the weekend and in some voting is mandatory, such as in Australia, where it is expected that everyone who is eligible has a duty to vote and participate in deciding on local and national issues.

“Whether moving the day of an election will help to turn the tide of poor turnout and re-engage with the electorate needs to be explored.”

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