Headlines: October 5th, 2001

The Government is to invite local councils to press ahead with plans for modernising voting.It is councils who run governmental elections in this country, and the pioneers in the sector have been lobbying for some time to leave behind the era of the ‘stubby pencil’ practices of the nineteenth century.

Pilots in the 2000 elections tried out extending postal ballots to anyone who wanted them in some wards, and offered early attempts at electronic voting.

Now the Government has given the all-clear to pilots of electronic voting at polling stations, electronic counting, online voting, telephone voting and more postal vote trials.

Councils must bid to the DTLR by the end of December, and successful pilots will be announced at the end of January 2002. The department will support councils by providing, by a tendering process, a panel of suppliers to provide the equipment and technical expertise to support councils participating in the electronic democracy pilots.

The pilots just announced complement the research announced earlier this week (see Publicnet Briefing, October 4) in informing how changes to the way people vote might be introduced more widely.

The prospectus for councils wishing to bid is on the DTLR website: www.dtlr.gov.uk