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Remember Tony Blair’s all postal vote Euro Elections in 2004

April 22nd, 2014

In the next couple of weeks postal vote packs for the May 22 Euro Election will be going out to those electors who have registered to cast their votes in this way. The chart shows how significant this form of voting has become.

Back at the 2004 Euro Elections an experiment took place in four regions of England of all postal voting. These were the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the East Midlands. This certainly encouraged overall turnout. In the four regions it averaged 42.4% which was 5% higher than the rest of the UK where voting took place in the normal way.

The manner in which the pilot schemes were carried out attracted a lot of criticism. Tens of thousands of ballot papers were reported to have going astray, printers were unable to cope, and there were many allegations of fraud. In some council areas in the regions concerned ballot boxes were reintroduced late at libraries as “collection points” for postal forms.

All postal voting in a national election has not been repeated but the newer rules making this a lot easier are in place and on May 22nd I’d expect to see about quarter of votes cast to be in this manner.

For me a big problem with postal voting is that the campaign has been effectively closed for many voters a couple of weeks before polling day.

Mike Smithson

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