Govt promises biggest test yet for e-voting

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has given the green light to 18 councils to trial e-voting in May's local elections, in...

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The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has given the green light to 18 councils to trial e-voting in May's local elections, in the largest test yet of the government's ambitious e-voting plans.

Government officials said that the 1.5 million voters would be able to use the new methods, more than three times the number eligible to vote in trials last year.

Local government minister Nick Raynsford said: "The pilots are an important step towards our aim of holding an e-enabled general election sometime after 2006."

E-voting will help make the electoral process more accessible for the public, he added.

South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council will trial internet, SMS text messaging and touch-tone phone voting combined with a postal ballot.

Stratford-upon-Avon District Council, however, will use the internet and e-voting at polling stations.

Officials at the Electoral Commission confirmed this week that they are close to appointing a high-profile IT specialist to oversee the government's e-voting programme.

Late last year the commission advertised for an e-democracy adviser, who will play a critical role in evaluating the security and performance of e-voting trials across local authorities.

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