Highland Council To Support Postal voting
In Community Council Elections
20 November 2001

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HIGHLAND COUNCIL TO SUPPORT POSTAL VOTING FOR COMMUNITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS

The Highland Council is to support postal ballots for Community Council elections in the Highlands and will make sure that any additional costs do not fall on the Community Councils themselves.

This is one of the major proposals in the Concordat with Community Councils, which sets out the future relationship between The Highland Council and Community Councils. One of the key aims of the Concordat is to stimulate greater interest in grassroots democracy by establishing a more standard arrangement for the timing, frequency and format of Community Council elections.

Postal voting has been successfully tested in recent Community Council elections in Caithness and Inverness and is standard in Skye & Lochalsh. In all cases postal ballots have led to a significant increase in Ďturn outí of up to 80% of electors. Consultations will now begin in each Area on moving towards the new arrangements.

Chairman of the Councilís Renewing Democracy and Community Planning Select Committee, Councillor David Alston said: "At present, we have eight different schemes for running community council elections and, as a consequence, there is a lot of variation in the timing, frequency and method of election used across the councilís area.

"Our aim is to adopt a common approach, which should increase community interest and involvement in the election process, as well as provide cost savings. Experience of postal voting in the areas where it has been used is very positive and the Council is more than happy to accept this as a standard option for voting. In my own community of Cromarty, there was a 68% response in a recent postal ballot for elections which is evidence that this method of voting will help greater community involvement."