Headlines: June 4th, 2010

A special seminar in the Scottish Parliament today will look at ways of improving voter turnout at local and national elections. The event has been organised jointly by the parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee and the Scottish government.

More than 50 organisations have signed up to the seminar including COSLA, which represents Scotland’s local councils, the Electoral Reform Society and the Electoral Commission. Topics to be examined will include trends in turnout across Europe, using new media to encourage civic participation and the role of electoral professionals in raising awareness of voter registration.

The Convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee, Duncan McNeil, who will be one of the main speakers, said voter turnout was fundamental to the success of any election. “This seminar will give us an excellent opportunity to look at why people vote or don’t vote and what we can do to encourage greater numbers of people to register and use their vote,” he said.

The Scottish Minister for Parliamentary Business, Bruce Crawford said today’s event would allow the government to involve a range of organisations and individuals in exploring ways to improve turnout which was an issue for any election. “We need to consider how to improve turnout, what the difficulties are that have to be overcome and how we can fix the disconnect between voters and politicians,” he added.