Majority of UK population would vote online, Mori poll reveals

If experiments in using e-voting in this week's local government election are a success, the majority of the population would...

If experiments in using e-voting in this week's local government election are a success, the majority of the population would take advantage of them, new research has claimed.

The survey, carried out by Mori for the Electoral Commission, says that 60% of those questioned would vote electronically if given the chance of using a reliable system.

On Thursday (1 May) more than 1.5 million people in 18 different council areas will get the chance to use the internet, text messaging, electronic kiosks and digital TV to cast their ballot.

Against a background of a 59% poll in the 2001 UK General Election and 32% of eligible voters taking part in last year's English local elections, the Mori poll reveals that new voting methods could increase turn-out dramatically.

The Electoral Commission - the independent body set up to increase participation in elections - said 21% of those surveyed said they had not voted because the polling station was inconvenient for them.

If they had the chance 41% of those questioned wished to use the internet, 33% text messaging and 26% digital TV.

Nicole Smith, head of policy at the commission, said, "People still care about education, taxes, policing and healthcare as much as before, but turn-outs have been falling in part due to a lack of convenience for voters.

"When life is very hectic, a trip to the polling station can be hard to fit in. So it is important we look at all kinds of ways in which we can make it easy for people to use their vote.''

A separate poll by ICM shows that e-voting would dramatically increase the number of young people voting and expressing interest in political party policies and manifestos to 40%.

But a third of those questioned expressed concern about the security of online polling.

Stuart James, deputy chairman of public sector consultancy HEDRA, said e-voting had the potential to "re-engage young people in the political process.'' But he added, "Fears over fairness and web security are largely a matter of perception rather than reality, but there is still a need for the government to educate the public about this new voting method.''

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