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Stratford Trials Electronic Voting

Voters in south Warwickshire are getting ready for a radical change in the way they vote in the local elections in May.

Instead of marking a cross on a ballot paper in the traditional way they will be casting their vote electronically.

Stratford District Council is the only authority in the country to take part in a pilot scheme to speed up the voting process.

People visiting polling stations will announce themselves in the usual way and then walk into a machine shaped like a polling booth.

But instead of seeing a piece of paper and a pencil they will be faced with a screen with the voting options.

To cast their vote people will have to press the screen next to the party or candidate of their choice.

The system, which has been in use in Holland for 20 years, does not allow people to cast another vote until the presiding officer resets the machine.

When the polling stations close, a printout of the number of votes cast is taken, and a small cartridge is removed and taken to the count.

Electoral Services Manager Bernadette O’Hare said the results would be available in minutes.

The cost of leasing the machines has been saved by not having to print ballot papers or pay staff to count votes through the night.

Local elections in May are being held in 18 of the district council's wards, and in 27 parishes. Up to 80 machines are expected to be used.

Miss O’Hare said:

"The machines will be on show for demonstration before the election. We are adding dates all the time, but if any group has a meeting and would like to see it then they should contact us to arrange a demonstration."

The first demonstration will be at the Crawford Memorial Hall in Bidford-on-Avon on Thursday. Further demonstrations of the new voting machine are being held at shopping stores around Stratford, as well as in Shipston-on-Stour and Southam.

The list of demonstrations arranged so far is:

30 March Crawford Memorial Hall, Bidford
1 April Safeways, Alcester Road, Stratford
12 April The Grange, Coventry Road, Southam
14 April Clarke House, West Street, Shipston
15 April Marks & Spencer, Bridge Street, Stratford
15 April Tesco, Maybird Centre, Birmingham Road, Stratford
29 April Marks & Spencer, Bridge Street, Stratford

A machine is also on permanent demonstration - up until the elections - in the reception area at the district council headquarters in Elizabeth House, Church Street, Stratford.

Any community groups or residents who would like one of the demonstration machines to visit their local venue should contact Bernadette O'Hare on 01789 260212 or by email:

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