AS I WRITE, village halls and community centres across the country are about halfway through their periodic makeovers as polling stations for the General Election.

While you will know the result of the voting by the time you read this, I have yet to pop along to the rickety old booth and put my cross in the box with a stubby pencil.

It may have been five long years ago, but it struck me even then how antiquated the whole system is becoming.

Proof of this – in the crassest form – came with news that a polling station in Preston had installed specific ‘selfie areas’ for voters, to avoid any rule-breaking.

The Electoral Commission issued guidance warning that communicating any information “obtained in a polling station” – which might include details on ballot papers –could be a breach of the law.

And so some authorities took action to stop overenthusiastic snap-happy residents going too far on election day.

Most of these were probably first-time voters, not yet ground down by years of trudging across town to cast in vain their message in a bottle.

This is another example of the increasingly information-led, tap-happy world which is seemingly incapable of realising that rules still apply.

Judges see it week in, week out, in court, be it a juror Facebooking about a defendant or previous convictions being jangled around on twitter like keys to a jail cell.

Or an army of re-tweeters implicating a peer in a non-existent sex scandal.

Of course, rules around polling stations are there for a reason, and we must always be thankful they are there – try voting against Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF any time since 1980 for a stark comparison.

But there is still the feeling that the whole electoral business could do with a revamp and be brought into the 21st century.

I can’t say exactly how you would do it to avoid an increase in electoral fraud, but I’m fairly certain the turnout would rocket if you could vote from your mobile phone.

Despite whether you think the election should be decided on first-past-the-post, proportional representation or slapping coloured rosettes on the shells of racing tortoises, the biggest problem is the increasingly low turnouts.

Truth is turnouts have taken a dive in recent decades, and the fact that 65 per cent at the 2010 General Election was considered a good showing tells us everything we need to know.

More shockingly, the Electoral Commission estimates there are as many as 7.5 million people in Britain entitled to vote who are not even registered.

Is Russell Brand right? Are they all disenfranchised and making a stand after being alienated by the social elite? Or can they just not be bothered to go online or trawl through pizza leaflets in their letterbox to find the documentation?

People consistently complain that MPs do not command a proper mandate when they scrape through in their constituency, sometimes with as little as a third of the vote.

But it doesn’t tell the whole story, with as many as 40 per cent of those registered and all of the non-registered residents failing to vote for anyone, let alone the winner.

Surely it is time for an Australian-style compulsory voting system?

Yes, there are questions as to whether voting is a right or a duty, and an argument as to freedom of choice does come into it.

But in this year of all years, when legitimacy of government is likely to be the watchword once all the votes are counted, isn’t it time we ensured whoever grabs the reins of power does so with the most comprehensive mandate?