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Absent Voting

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 26 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what percentage of votes were postal in (a) the 2005 general election, (b) the 2005 local elections and (c) the 2006 local elections; and how many postal vote applications were disallowed per local authority in each case. (188468)

Research conducted by the Electoral Commission on turnout at the 2005 general and local elections concluded that 12.1 per cent. of the electorate opted to have a postal vote at those elections, and that postal votes accounted for 15 per cent. of all votes cast. The information for the 2006 local elections is not held centrally by Government.

The Government do not hold figures for how many postal vote applications were disallowed per local authority, though this may be held by local authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps are being taken to (a) raise the awareness of postal voting availability and (b) reduce levels of disallowed postal votes. (188469)

The Government have prescribed that the annual canvass form that is sent to every household each autumn contains a provision allowing an elector to request a postal vote application form. The Government have expanded the information that is included on the poll card that is sent to electors at an election, and it now includes information about how to apply for a postal vote and the deadline for making a postal vote application at the forthcoming election.

The Electoral Administration Act 2006 brought forward measures to increase the security of postal voting. While this increased the amount of data needed when electors completed their forms, this was balanced by the removal of the requirement for a witness signature. The available information suggests that the levels of disallowed postal votes remain low. We will wish to keep the matter under review and to explore the issues involved with the Electoral Commission and Association of Electoral Administrators.