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Experimental Voting

Volume 403: debated on Monday 7 April 2003

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What statutory measures allow experimental voting procedures in individual constituencies at general elections. [107088]

Mr. Peter Viggers
(representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission)

The statutory provisions for experimental voting procedures apply only to local authority elections in England, Scotland and Wales.

A while ago, my hon. Friend referred to the number of younger people who vote. I and, I am sure, other colleagues have received representations from people of all ages asking for the opportunity to vote by e-mail or via the internet. Can the Speaker's Commission enable an experiment to see whether that would make a difference? It might allow the country to see whether those methods would work or whether more traditional ones are preferable.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. This is indeed an area in which the Electoral Commission has a keen interest. The commission's strategic evaluation report on the May 2002 electoral pilots notes that voters generally found electronic voting systems easy and convenient to use. However, the commission also recognises that evidence in relation to turnout remains unconvincing and recommends further trials to build on the experience of this year's pilots, which, of course, will be held in relation to the May local government elections.