25 Nov 2003
Archived Release. Please email the Press Team for assistance.
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The Electoral Commission has published its evaluation report on an all-postal voting scheme carried out for the by-election in the Walker ward in Newcastle on 4 September 2003.
Turnout in the by-election was 47.73%, a slight increase on the turnout recorded in the all-postal scheme which was carried out by Newcastle City Council the local elections in May this year. The Commission's report concludes that the scheme was successful in facilitating voting and that electors welcomed the convenience of postal votes.
Turnout at by-elections is traditionally low compared with regular elections; at comparable by-elections held using traditional voting methods, the turnout was 24.33% in the Benwell ward in July 2002 and 14.93% in the Scotswood ward in October 1999.
The evaluation report reviews various new measures to make voting more convenient and secure, and notes that Newcastle have sought to further improve the service offered to voters in May; the by-election offered an opportunity to further refine electoral procedures following the Commission's report on the May 2003 pilot scheme.
In July 2003, The Electoral Commission published its report, The shape of elections to come, evaluating 59 pilot schemes at the May 2003 local elections in England. The Commission recommended that all-postal voting should become the norm at all local elections throughout Great Britain, and the Government has accepted this recommendation in principle.
Roger Creedon, The Electoral Commission's Chief Executive, said: 'All-postal elections in Newcastle City Council have proven to be successful in increasing participation in the democratic process. This result can only serve to underline The Electoral Commission's view that all-postal voting can have a significant impact on voter turnout.'
The full report can be viewed on the Commission's website at http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/templates/search/document.cfm/8885
For further information contact:
Gemma Crosland on 020 7271 0527 or Maxine Hoeksma on 020 7271 0531 or e-mail email@example.com
For out of hours call 07789 920414
Notes to editors:
1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body established by Parliament. It aims to ensure public confidence and participation in the democratic process within the United Kingdom through modernisation of the electoral process, promotion of public awareness of electoral matters, and regulation of political parties.
2. The Electoral Commission's report, The shape of elections to come, reviews the 59 pilot
schemes which took place across England on 1 May 2003. Over 6 million people were eligible to vote in programmes testing innovative counting and voting methods - all of which successfully delivered an election result. The Borough of Telford and Wrekin also ran a successful all-postal pilot scheme at the local elections in May 2003.