Headlines: April 26th, 2002

Some voters in the cities of Liverpool and Sheffield, as well as in St Albans, Crew and Nantwich will be able to start voting today for the council elections on 2nd May. Everyone listed on the electoral roll in the trial wards has been sent a sealed ballot card containing detailed instructions on how to vote along with an 8 digit PIN number and 10 digit password. At any time up to 9.0 pm on 2nd May they can cast their vote by using mobile phone text messaging, the internet or landline phones. They can also choose to use a stubby pencil, in which case they will have to visit the polling booth on election day.The polls for Pop Idol and Big Brother have raised expectations that the public will vote in large numbers if they can use the telephone and online facilities. Turnout in the 2000 elections in the two pilot wards in Liverpool were 15.89% and 24.52% .

The trials are being conducted by BT in partnership with election .com in Liverpool and Sheffield and with Oracle in the other trials. Funding was provided by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions as part of a drive to introduce 21st century methods at the ballot box.