Headlines: August 2nd, 2002

The Electoral Commission has called for the establishment of a national electronic register. This would allow, for example, voters to use any polling station in their local authority area or, in due course, nationwide.The call comes in a new report by the commission, looking at the way ahead for modernising how we vote.

The commission’s report, Modernising elections: a strategic evaluation of the 2002 pilot electoral schemes, has reviewed voting pilots by 30 local authorities in May’s local authority elections with a view to directing the future of such pilots.

It says it regards it as important that future pilot schemes continue to develop multiple channels of voting to increase choice and flexibility for electors. Over time, it says remote voting may well become the norm for most elections, as it appears to be more convenient for many voters. In the medium term, remote voting may be achieved through postal voting; over the longer term, as internet access and digital TV ownership grows, through technology-based voting schemes.

The report recommends the topics and themes for further pilots in local elections May 2003, but believes that it would be moving too quickly to adopt all-postal ballots for the elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland next year.

The commission does hint that voting pilots are now moving into their next phase, and that technology bought should be suitable for use in the medium to long term and which, if scaled up to regional or national use, could produce economies of scale.

Link: www.electoralcommission.org.uk/publications.htm#anchor1