Released on 7 April 2006 Archived News
Postal votes for next month's local elections in the Stratford District will be more secure this year thanks to a new bar-coding and watermark system. Stratford-on-Avon District Council is only one of two councils in the West Midlands to pilot the new scheme on 4 May, where bar codes will be used to authorise postal votes instead of the traditional method of manually checking against the electoral register.
These changes are likely to be introduced nationally next year. The other West Midlands council taking part in trialling the postal bar codes scheme is Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council.
"This new system is intended to make postal voting more secure, though anyone wishing to vote by post will not notice much difference to previous years," said Paul Lankester, the Returning Officer for Stratford District's elections.
"Whilst Stratford has not experienced many issues relating to voting fraud, there have been real problems with fraudulent postal voting in other parts of the country, so it makes sense to trial the bar codes in an area like ours where the results can be more easily managed and reviewed.
"Ballot papers will be water-marked this year, which should make it quicker to vote at polling stations because less time will be needed by the officials to register voters and issue papers. There is also the benefit that there is less opportunity for error in issuing the ballot paper.
"Stratford has always been keen to lead the way in improving the voting system. We were one of the first to successfully trial electronic voting a few years ago, and it seems a natural progression to trial the forthcoming national legislation on postal voting so that we can learn any lessons, We would welcome feedback from voters as to their views on the changes."
Applications for anyone wishing to vote by post should be made to the elections office by 18 April. Views on the postal voting changes can be given to the Elections Office at Elizabeth House- telephone number 01789 260210.
This year's local elections on 4 May in the Stratford District will be for 19 District Council seats, including a by-election in Henley, along with 30 parishes. Polling hours at around 80 polling stations have also been extended and will now be from 7.00am until 10.00pm. Full details of the seats up for election and the statement of nomination can be found at: http://www.stratford.gov.uk/council/council-772.cfm
The current political standings of the District Council's 53 seats are: Conservatives - 30 seats; Liberal Democrats - 20 seats; Independents - 3 seats.
To find out more about postal voting, please use the following link:
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575