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A major trial is about to kick off in the UK that could help decide whether e-voting is merely a gimmick or whether it can genuinely help cure voter apathy.

Some 1.5m people in 18 local authorities will be able to vote by text, the Net or digital TV in local elections in England on May 1.

According to research published today by the Electoral Commission, half of adults reckon technology could make the difference to them voting or not.

Predictably, 18-24 year olds were the most upbeat about it with three out of four saying they were turned-on by the prospect of e-voting, although sceptics claim this enthusiasm is based on e-voting's novelty rather than anything of any substance.

Either way, the Electoral Commission's research found that four in ten of punters were keen to use the Net to vote, a third would like to text, while a quarter were happy to use digital TV.

Last year, less than a third of voters turned out for local elections. A fifth of those non-voters said they didn't put an "X" on a piece of paper because taking a trip to the polling station was too "inconvenient". ®

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