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Labour warms to electronic voting

28/09/14

The Labour party has vowed to introduce electronic voting as part of a package to build on the excitement and record turnout at the Scottish referendum.

Polling station sign Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, said queues at polling stations across Scotland showed voters could be "interested and engaged" in politics.

But he added: "They feel frustrated and powerless. Vested interests go unchallenged and nothing changes. Westminster has become a dirty word.

"We ignore this at our peril. That's why Labour will overhaul our democracy. Making it as easy as possible for people to vote - transforming elections so that voting is in tune with the busy lives people lead. Holding elections at weekends to raise turnout. Polling opened a week in advance to allow early voting. Electronic voting, making sure it's affordable and isn't open to abuse."

Khan said it had been "inspiring" to see 16 and 17-year-olds voting in huge numbers, adding: "Votes for 16 and 17-year-olds is an idea whose time has come."

Labour first hinted at its support for electronic voting earlier this year, while admitting there were daunting security challenges - a stance Khan now appears to have firmed up.

The party has also backed allowing voters to register as they enter the polling station, another measure seen as crucial to efforts to combat low turnouts. That followed the government's summer launch of online voter registration, allowing the process to be completed in just a few minutes.

Labour is concerned that millions of its own supporters are the most likely to be disenfranchised from the subsequent switch to individual electoral registration (IER).

However, allowing voters to register on polling day would also pose huge challenges for local authority electoral registration officers.

Khan said one part of the package - votes for 16 and 17-year-olds - could be introduced immediately. He said: "I challenge the government. Why wait? We'll work with you, let's legislate now and let's get 16 and 17-year-olds voting in the next general election in May."

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