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Matthew Hancock
Your Local MP

Postal Poll Trial

Wednesday, 1st January 2003.

HAVERHILL voters are set to become guinea pigs in an election experiment which will do away with traditional polling stations.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has been chosen by the Government to pilot a new voting system in which all votes are made by post.

Before the borough and parish elections in May everyone on the electoral register in Haverhill and the surrounding area will receive a ballot paper through the post.

The trial is one of several taking place up and down the country to find new ways of increasing the turn-out at elections.

There will be no polling stations open in these trial areas as all votes will be made by post.

The council applied to take part in the pilot after a recommendation by its Electoral Processes Review Panel.

Councillor Andrew Varley, chairman of the panel, said: "It is an entirely postal vote and people will have to have a witness's signature to ensure they have put it in the envelope themselves. The witness can be a family member.

"Most other pilots have not gone down this route and we will check back afterwards, taking a statistical sample to find out if there has been any fraudulent voting.

"We have a pretty good turn-out compared to other places for elections but the general turn-out in this country is pitiful and that is not a good thing.

"There is a lot of disenchantment with politics and we are always hearing about the death of ideology. People think there is not a big difference between the policies of the main parties so they don't see the point in voting.

"This pilot does not constitute a solution to that but it will no doubt bring about a higher turn-out because it is more convenient for people.

"It is not the answer to the problem, it is only a tool.

"Nevertheless, the more people who vote, the better it is for local democracy."

Haverhill Weekly News

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