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Postal or online votes for all Scots suggested

Ballot boxes in Edinburgh ahead of the 2011 Scottish General Election. Picture: Neil Hanna

Ballot boxes in Edinburgh ahead of the 2011 Scottish General Election. Picture: Neil Hanna

VOTING at polling stations could be scrapped and replaced by postal or online voting in an attempt to increase voter turnout, in one of a number of suggestions in a Scottish Government consultation on the future of local and parliamentary elections.

It looks at adopting universal postal voting, which would see everyone on the electoral register given a ballot at home instead of asking them to go to a polling station. An alternative would be to keep booths so people can choose to hand their ballots in.

Other ideas include putting electronic machines in booths, using digital technology or telephone voting.

Turnout for council elections dropped from 58% in 1999 to just 39% in 2012. Scottish Parliament election turnout fell from almost 59% in 1999 to just over 50% in 2011.

Local government minister Derek Mackay said: “Voter turnout for local government and Scottish Parliament elections has been in decline, in common with other developed countries, and we are determined to challenge that trend.

“Locally and nationally, it is important that every effort is made to increase voter participation, and this consultation proposes a number of ambitious measures to help us do that.

“Of course, we can only take forward those measures that the public support, and that is why it is vital that as many people as possible respond to our consultation.”

The consultation, which runs until July 11, also looks at allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote, following from the decision to extend the franchise to younger people in the referendum.

 

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