Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The obsession with improving voter turnout is dangerous

Councillor's Commission, has decided that councils be allowed to offer people a material incentive, like a free lottery ticket, to encourage people to vote, thereby improving voter turnout in local elections.

" All this stuff about turnout would hardly be worth going on about if it was just a matter of preventing some councillors luring people to the polling station with the offer of a free tombola. Unfortunately the drive to increase turnout has a serious consequence. It leads politicians (particularly, at the moment, Labour ones, who fear it is their voters staying at home) to feel that it is more important to make voting easier than it is to ensure that the voting system is secure...

The Electoral Commission, the body policing the system, has been working hard to ensure voting and politics has integrity. And it has repeatedly argued that we need individual-signed voter registration. Tomorrow it will press its case again. But it is being resisted by MPs. Why? Because it is feared that such registration will reduce turnout.

This obsession with turnout isn't simply pointless. It's dangerous."

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