Lib Dems bid to curb 'too expensive' voting

PILOT voting schemes used in the last city council elections will need the backing of a majority of councillors before they can be introduced again - if a Lib Dems proposal is accepted.

Monday, 3rd September 2007, 9:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th September 2007, 7:32 am

Internet, telephone and advance voting was available for the first time during the last local elections at a cost of 760,362.

But concerns were also raised afterwards by the Electoral Commission about security and transparency issues when using the new methods.

Now the Lib Dems are set to put forward a proposal at the full council meeting today that any future voting pilots are not introduced unless backed by a majority of councillors.

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Lib Dem leader Coun Paul Scrivens said: "The voting pilot at the last local elections in Sheffield came at a huge cost to the taxpayer. So the fact that the electoral commission found serious concerns over security, value for money and effectiveness should be a real cause for concern.

"The level of inefficiency will shock many people, for example it cost taxpayers 425 for each vote made over the telephone. This is clearly a massive waste of public money, especially when you consider it didn't have any effect on turnout." The total amount spent on internet voting was 395,000 - 110 per voter - while telephone voting cost 285,000. Advance voting cost 60 per person, totalling 54,000.

Coun Scrivens added it was "vital" turnout for elections was increased but said this should be done by reforming the voting system rather than the way people vote.

He said: "If we had a system where every vote counted and power was distributed on a fair basis then people would see that their vote made a real difference."