Polling booths to be abolished for local elections

I almost missed this but for taking a trip over to Samizdata‘s weblog. A brief report in the Telegraph states that John Prescott is to abolish polling boths in local elections in England and Wales, apparently because postal balloting increases turn-out.

Now it seems to me that the problem with postal balloting is that you can never be sure the person filling in and posting the ballot form is the person to whom the ballot was sent. At least with the polling booth, they can do some checks to make sure that you are the person who was supposed to get the form and check that you haven’t already voted whether with your form or someone else. As for the turnout, certainly it seems to be up in areas using postal balloting. However the same report also states:

But the Free e-democracy project, a non-party political group which has a history of developing internet voting software, says there is no guarantee that results from e-voting or postal ballots can be trusted.

However I expect postal ballots to be popular with the politicians — I’m sure election candidates will love going round to people’s houses to help them fill in the forms, and then volunteer to post the forms themselves. Perhaps this explains some of the increased turnout?

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