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E-mails to end voter apathy?

June 15, 2002

Radical measures to overcome voter apathy are to be considered by council leaders in the East Riding ahead of next year's local elections.

Residents could find themselves casting their vote by e-mail or fax in a bid to boost turnout.

The proposals come after an abysmal 37 per cent turnout at the East Riding's last local elections in 1999.

Votes could also be cast on more than one day with new residents able to register to vote up to one week before polling day.

Nigel Pearson, East Riding director of law, administration, planning and property, said the council would need permission from the Government for such a scheme.

He said a similar application was unsuccessful two years ago.

However, a number of successful trials were staged in different parts of Britain at May's local elections.

Now councillors will decide next Thursday whether to apply to the Government for permission.

Overhauling the postal system would allow ballot papers to be submitted through traditional post, telephone, fax or e-mail.

They will still be able to vote in the traditional way by visiting designated polling stations set up in schools, church halls and community centres and other venues across the region.

Voting on more than one day would use information technology kiosks based in the council's customer service centres across the region.

Mr Pearson said a similar system set up in Sheffield was "very impressive".

If alternative voting schemes are given the go-ahead, they will be piloted in small areas of the East Riding - perhaps individual wards - so their success can be assessed. Copyright © Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.


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