Election 2015: Could more be done to increase turnout?

GENERAL election turnout in the Herald and Gazette area could be in the region of 70 per cent – but could more be done to encourage the electorate to vote?

Alex Bailey, chief executive of Adur and Worthing councils.
Alex Bailey, chief executive of Adur and Worthing councils.

The traditional pencil and paper method has long been championed but some campaigners believe electronic voting would boost turnout.

West Sussex County Council flirted with trialling an electronic voting system for a consultation on the proposed Worthing 20mph scheme in March last year but decided against it over fears the process would be open to abuse.

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Despite this. Adur and Worthing councils chief executive Alex Bailey said a move to digital voting was inevitable and could encourage more people to vote.

He said: “I can see an argument for moving to some kind of digital voting system and I can also see some very real concerns about the potential for it being easier to rig.

“For all its flaws, the process of having 63 polling stations is very difficult to rig.

“I think the move to e-voting will happen inevitably and is the sort of thing which could encourage an uptake in voting.”

Littlehampton, Arun and West Sussex county councillor Dr James Walsh believes digital voting should be introduced sooner rather than later.

“Everything else can be done electronically but we are still using a lead pencil and a piece of paper,” he said.

Asked if he believed voters had a romantic view of the traditional system, he disagreed.

He said: “Voting is voting. A huge amount of people are switching to postal voting,

“I think the turnout will probably be higher because of the huge amount of focus on it being a fairly close election this time.”

One person who will not be voting on May 7 is Worthing business owner Eddie Dewey, who felt not enough information was provided for him to make an informed decision.

He said: “Trust is the main issue. They should support local business, they should make people want to open up shops and local businesses and trade.”

Kevin West, 63, believed the solution to improving voter turnout was simpler than introducing digital voting.

He said: “They need to tell people about the current issues and how they affect them, that will bring more people out.”

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