As I’d predicted, the early voting pilot in this May’s elections in Wales has turned out to be a bit of a dud. In line with previous early voting pilots in the UK, administratively things went pretty smoothly in allowing some voters a chance to vote in person ahead of polling day. But also as with previous pilots very few people took up the early voting, and most likely a good chunk of even those who did would have voted anyway by other means.
In this case, people in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Torfaen and some parts of Bridgend were given the opportunity to vote early, but only 1,791 did so, making turnout thanks to early voting range between 0.2% and 1.5%. Moreover, three quarters of those who voted early said they would have voted by another means anyway.
The Electoral Commission has been oddly reticent about making the obvious conclusion – that other ideas are more worthy of the time and money it takes to run electoral pilots given the consistent under-performance of early voting. Especially now that has been confirmed with up-to-date data.
Let’s hope that other ideas get piloted in future instead, especially as there are several that look more promising.