Absent Voting

Electoral Commission Committee written question – answered on 25th February 2014.

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Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what research the Electoral Commission has conducted into the effect of an all-postal ballot election on turnout and voter engagement; and what assessment it has made of the results of that research.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

The Commission informs me that it evaluated a number of all-postal voting pilot schemes conducted by English local authorities at local elections between 2002 and 2004, and in four European electoral regions at the June 2004 European parliamentary elections.

The Commission's evaluations noted that all-postal pilots had demonstrated some success in improving voter turnout. For example, at the 2004 European parliamentary elections, turnout in the four UK pilot regions was 42.42%, just over five percentage points higher than the 37.11% in non-pilot regions.

The Commission's evaluations also noted that people valued the convenience and ease of use of postal voting.

The Commission also highlighted the administrative challenges associated with all-postal voting; concerns expressed at the time about the need for improved security in the electoral registration and postal voting processes; and the fact that people valued having a choice about which voting method to use.

The Commission recommended in 2004 that, while postal voting should remain part of the UK voting system, all-postal voting should not be pursued for use at UK statutory elections.

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