Thursday, March 13, 2008

Observing the English and Scottish 2007 e-elections

Last year's trials of electronic voting and counting systems in UK elections did not go particularly smoothly. Parliamentary Affairs has just published a review by myself and Jason Kitcat:

Elections held during May 2007 in England and Scotland for the first time allowed accredited observers access to polling stations and counts. This provided an opportunity for detailed scrutiny of the use of e-voting and e-counting equipment in these elections. This article assesses the use of these technologies using observations from 10 constituencies and data obtained using Freedom of Information Act requests, interviews with officials, candidates and parties and reports on previous trials. It finds that inadequate time was available during the procurement process for cross-party consensus to be built around the English e-voting trials or for systems to be fully tested. Design errors meant that a very large number of Scottish ballots were spoiled, while problems with ballot papers required a large number of votes to be counted manually. Votes initially missed due to an over-wide Excel spreadsheet changed the result in the Highlands and Islands and handed control of the Scottish Parliament from the Labour party to the Scottish National Party.

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