The Home Office has given the provisional go-ahead to six local authorities to use computerised voting or counting in May's council elections.
Participating authorities hope that using touch-screen computer terminals will boost election turnouts by encouraging more young people to vote. They also hope to reduce paperwork.
Bury Council plans to computerise both voting and counting, while the other participants - Broxbourne, Salford, Stratford, Three Rivers and Warrington - plan to use either electronic voting or counting.
UK-based software development company Trilogy is developing the technology for the Bury pilot. The terminals will be internet-ready, but there are no plans to use internet links for the pilot.
However, the councils' alternative schemes to traditional paper-based voting depend on the Representation of the People Bill becoming law before the elections take place.
"The possibility of running the schemes is subject to the Bill receiving Royal Assent," said a Home Office spokesman.
Debbie Proctor, elections and land charges officer for Bury Council, said the electronic voting and counting system will only be used in the district's Besses ward. She hopes that the pilot will increase the notoriously low turnout for council elections, which stood at 22 per cent last year in this area.
"The aim is to encourage people to vote and take part in the democratic process. We hope that a computer system will appeal to young voters," she said.
Other benefits include "cutting out ballot papers, pencils, and staff having to count bits of paper", she added.
Security is a chief concern for these trials. The Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) is holding its annual meeting at the end of February and will consider the issue.
AEA chairman John Turner said he is not against new methods, but warned that e-voting must be above reproach. "It is the way of the future, but there must be stringent security measures in case there is any question of foul play. We cannot jeopardise the voting system," he said.
Trilogy director Chris Anderson said the system would be secure. "The voting information will be downloaded to a central server using 128bit encryption. It is almost physically impossible to hack in," he said.
There will also be an audit trail so that the system can be properly interrogated if questions about malpractice arise, he added.
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