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E-voting on the way

Electronic counting was trialled in 21 councils in the 2006 local elections

The Government has said it is to trial electronic and internet voting at local authority elections in England next May.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs is looking for local authorities to run pilot schemes testing different voting methods at the elections, including internet and telephone voting, e-voting kiosks and electronic counting of votes. It will consult with the Electoral Commission to decide which pilot schemes will be chosen.

Some of the technologies, including electronic counting, were trialled in 15 pilot schemes in 21 councils at this year's local elections but e-voting was ruled out because of security concerns.

Among the councils trialling electronic vote-counting were Epping Forest District Council and the London Boroughs of Lewisham and Newham. Electronic signature-checking technology that uses optical character recognition was also tested.

The DCA said the new pilots will build on the experience of those at this year's local elections and make elections more accessible by making it easier to vote.

Bridget Prentice, democracy minister at the DCA, said: "More and more people, and particularly young people, are using the internet in their daily lives. We need to respond to this to enable people to participate in elections and the democratic process." Anna Lagerkvist