The overall use of voting machines and electronic vote counting was discussed by the Joint Committee on the Environment and Local Government on three occasions last December and the committee has now formally indicated its support for the introduction of the system at the forthcoming European and local elections. In addition, following the first use of the system at the general election in 2002, an independent survey found 96% of voters surveyed of the view that the voting machine was very easy or quite easy to use.
The electronic voting system to be used next June is a secure system and it will be more reliable and accurate than the paper ballots used to date. I will be launching an information and awareness campaign tomorrow which will inform the public about the system and respond to questions about it. The campaign will include information on television and on national and local radio, roadshows visiting each city and county, leaflets to each household, a lo-call telephone line, web page and in May next, some opportunities for the public to familiarise themselves with the voting machines. The publicity campaign will also include a voter awareness element to encourage voter turnout at the polls.
I refer also to the replies to Questions Nos. 140, 164 and 211 today.