VOTERS have no excuse for forgetting to cast their ballot with the launch of a new election website.

Swindon Council's £8,000 election website went live at 8am today.

It is part of a Government-funded pilot scheme to get more people to the ballot boxes on May 4.

Voters can sign up at the site for text and email reminders to get out and vote.

Deputy returning officer Alan Winchcombe said the site was part of a push to get more of Swindon's 129,000 eligible voters to the poll.

The site also has a forum for voters to say why they are or are not voting and what they think of the e-election initiative.

"It will tell you who you can vote for, where you can vote and why you want to vote," Mr Winchcombe said.

"If you don't know who your candidates are, you can look on here and find them.

"On election night we will update the results live as they are declared.

"You can sign up with your email address or your mobile number and it will remind you on polling day.

"It will send an email or a text message saying where you can vote."

There's even a game on the site, where contestants try to make elephants set sky-jumping distance records.

Mr Winchcombe said the website was a trial run of what voters could expect under new election rules passing through Parliament.

Under the legislation, election officers have a duty not just to run elections but also to encourage more people to join the vote.

Once inside the polling stations, residents can also expect some changes. Mr Winchcombe said ballot papers will be more secure this year.

"We are piloting a new format of security-branded ballot papers," he said. "We are going to be interested to see what voters' reactions are.

"We will be asking for comments."

He said more than 20,000 voters had replied to questionnaires handed out at last year's General Election.

The postal voting system will be made simpler.

About a third of Swindon's eligible voters turned out to recent elections, slightly lower than the national average.