VOTERS in Ipswich are to be given the chance to take part in a unique experiment - and can start signing up for it next week.Ipswich is the first borough in the country where all voters will be able to vote in one of five different methods in May's election.
By PAUL GEATER
VOTERS in Ipswich are to be given the chance to take part in a unique experiment – and can start signing up for it next week.
Ipswich is the first borough in the country where all voters will be able to vote by one of six different methods in May's election.
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They will be able to go to the ballot box or vote by post – as normal.
But they will also be able to use one of four new methods to make their vote heard: they can vote on the internet, by mobile text message, by phone using a touch-tone machine or through interactive BSkyB television.
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But to vote using one of the new methods, people have to register in advance and get a special voter identity number.
Registration is through a special freephone telephone number.
Every voter will be receiving hand-delivered details about registration tomorrow and will be able to register until April 11.
Those who register – and they won't have to decide which of the four e-voting methods they want to use – will be able to vote between 24 April and the close of polling on May 1.
Ipswich council chief executive James Hehir hopes thousands of voters will embrace the new technology.
"I hope that up to 25 per cent of votes in this year's election will be through this new system," he said.
"It should appeal to younger voters and those who might not want to go out to polling stations – we really do hope to attract more voters this time," he said.
E-voting has been tried in other parts of the country – but never on an authority-wide scale.
"There has been a lot of interest in this and the technology that's being used. When the polling stations close on May 1, we'll just add in the e-votes to the other totals," said Mr Hehir.