London to get e-voting?

The details are sketchy to say the least but Silicon.com is reporting that the Greater London Authority is looking to introduce e-voting for the mayoral elections in 2008 This would be a major leap from their current use of electronic counting of paper ballots. Silicon.com state that all channels are being considered (the Internet, telephone, mobile phone, text messaging, e-voting booths and digital TV). If a by-election or referendum popped up before 2008 then they might use the systems early. Lucky London.

The article notes that the counting contract alone cost £5m this year. That’s a lot of taxpayer cash for what?

Unfortunately a leader by Silicon.com raises some of the cost and security issues but argues that we will have to embrace e-voting. Why? Let me quote the final part of the leader in full:

But this is a technology which has to be embraced and the scepticism which surrounds all voting means we should be building in a fairly high tolerance to criticism threshold.

By 2008 the technology and the means of identity verification should be robust enough to guarantee a fairly flawless e-voting system.

We have to hope the knowledge and the implementation process also doesn’t let it down.

Because underpinning any e-voting rollout is the obvious fact it is a government IT project – and enough has been written in the past about the fact that is almost a by-word for ‘over budget, over time and flawed’.

So risking going over-budget with precious tax money is ok because we must embrace the technology? Hmmm. Perhaps by 2008 the major problems with e-voting will have been addressed. Perhaps. But the Greater London Authority is buying the voting systems this or next year so they will have yesterday’s technology tomorrow. Not good.