THE success of new postal votes trialled in Swindon Council's election are to be evaluated by the Electoral Commission.

Under the scheme being tested in the town, postal voters in Swindon did not have to have the usual witness signature on the statement returned with their ballot paper.

The commission is asking local electors, candidates, party activists and community groups to share their experiences of the pilot scheme and will publish findings in a report by August 4.

The electoral investigators will collect views on the impact of the pilot scheme across a range of issues, from the voting experience and elector turnout to election administration and the security of the vote.

The Swindon experiment was one of 15 pilot schemes across England, covering different innovations from early voting in supermarkets and care homes, to electronic counting or signing for ballot papers.

Council leader Mike Bawden said the election had run smoothly.

He said council officers would be presenting a more comprehensive report on the May 4 poll later this week.

The local elections gave the Conservatives an increased majority of 40 seats, Labour lost three seats to the Tories taking them to 14 seats, the Liberal Democrats lost two to the Tories and now have three seats, and there are two independent councillors.

The overall turnout for last week's elections was 34.21 per cent.

This was up from 2004 when it was 32.7 per cent.

The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by Parliament.

Its role is to boost public confidence and participation in the democratic process.

It has a statutory duty to evaluate and report on any pilot scheme approved by the secretary of state under the Representation Of The People Act 2000.

Voters can give their view to the Electoral Commission by visiting and downloading a questionnaire or using the online form.

Comments may also be sent by post to The Electoral Modernisation Team, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London SW1 P 2HW.

All comments and completed questionnaires should be submitted by May 19.