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Threat to voting in cut-price poll plan

Posted by James Hammerton @ 8:37 pm on 31 October, 2009.
Categories democracy and the rule of law, British politics.
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The Times reports:

Thousands of polling stations would be closed and voting hours reduced under a plan to cut the cost of elections.

Other proposals include cutting staff, replacing polling cards with e-mail requests, increasing candidates’ deposits, fixed-term parliaments and reducing security at election counts.

The options, outlined in a working paper drawn up by the Ministry of Justice for the Treasury, are designed to save up to £65 million. They were condemned last night as a “threat to democracy that would save peanuts”.

Critics said that they would lead to even lower election turnouts when the standing of MPs is at an all-time low after the expenses scandal. Voter turnout has been falling steadily over the decades. Only 61 per cent of the electorate voted in the 2005 general election compared with 84 per cent in 1950.

The plan to close stations and lay off staff could have an impact as soon as next year’s general election as it does not require legislation. Councils may decide not to put up hundreds of temporary polling stations that allow voters to cast their ballot paper within walking distance of their home. Laws would have to be introduced to change voting hours or remove polling cards.

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