Trials taking place in local council elections this May could open the way for UK voters to elect governments from the comfort of their own armchair.
Over 1.5 million UK citizens will be eligible to vote electronically in council elections this May, as the government launches its most ambitious e-voting test to date.
And this could be extended to general elections by the time the Prime Minister seeks re-election.
Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford confirmed yesterday that 18 councils in the UK would pilot schemes enabling people to vote via text message, the internet and digital television.
"The pilots are an important step towards our aim of holding an e-enabled general election sometime after 2006," said Raynsford in a statement.
The government has been looking for ways to entice voters, especially younger ones, to participate in elections.
Recent years have seen voter numbers drop, amid increasing feelings of disenchantment with politics among young voters.
Councils across the country will trial a variety of polling methods, aimed at improving participation in elections.
They will test systems using the internet, touch-tone telephones, text messages, electronic voting at polling stations and digital TV.
"The pilots demonstrate councils' commitment to exploiting new technology to find innovative ways for people to participate in local democracy," said Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairman of the Local Government Association.
Voters will receive a special pack detailing the available options, and will be given personal ID numbers to prevent them registering multiple votes.
Details of which suppliers have been chosen to develop the e-voting framework are expected in the coming weeks.
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