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Armed forces should trial electronic election voting system, report suggests

The report has gained cross-party from Labour MP Dan Jarvis and Conservative peer Lord Lexden.

Online voting in elections should be trialled for British military staff based overseas, a think tank has said.

A report by the youth-led WebRoots Democracy says members of the armed forces face hurdles when it comes to voting, such as an unreliable postal voting system and difficulties in registering to vote.

The report has gained cross-party from Labour MP Dan Jarvis, a former paratrooper, and Conservative peer Lord Lexden.

Writing in the report’s foreword, Mr Jarvis said: “Unfortunately, in our existing system, many armed forces personnel have limited access to the democracy they defend.

“The troops who put their safety before our own to bravely fight for our democracy should never be denied access to it.”

Lord Lexden added: “It is unacceptable that our courageous troops who have uprooted their lives to defend ours are forgotten by our electoral system.

“We must explore the possibilities of new technology and learn how best we can harness them for the good of our democratic process in order to include these often forgotten voters.”

The report also calls on the Government to track the number of military personnel overseas who are on the electoral register.

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Former paratrooper Dan Jarvis supported the call (PA)

Areeq Chowdhury, chief executive of WebRoots Democracy, said: “The barriers to democratic engagement for our military personnel posted overseas should be dismantled, and technology has a role to play in doing so.

“With around 10,000 UK military personnel posted overseas, it would be a low risk, but high impact project that, in 2017, is surely worth exploring.”

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “It is important that everyone in our democracy has their voice heard and this Government is committed to overcoming the barriers that prevent people registering and voting.

“Service personnel have the opportunity like everyone else to register online to vote and to vote by proxy or post.”

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