UK rushes to vote online

British electors rushed to the Internet yesterday in a bid to beat the deadline for registering to vote in the general election on May 6.

The Electoral Commission reported that 50,000 registration forms were downloaded from its website on Tuesday, ahead of the 1700 BST deadline to return forms to local authorities.

The distribution of voting forms via the Internet means the 2010 general election is the first in which the final deadline for registration has come after the election itself was announced.

The last-minute surge brought the total number of forms downloaded since 15 March to over 460,000, with nearly 200,000 of those being downloaded after the party leaders’ TV debate. The total number downloaded when Britain last went to the polls in 2005 was 49,000.

Jenny Watson, chairwoman of the Commission, said that the Internet had also been responsible for a surge in interest from young voters after the Commission teamed up with Facebook to direct young users to its Democracy UK page.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, Watson said that around 14,000 registration forms had been downloaded by Facebook users, and that just over 40 per cent of all those visiting the Commission’s About My Vote web site were young people aged 18 to 25.