Sorrow of sorrows but in spite of all the evidence showing that e-voting is A Bad Idea, today the Department for Constitutional Affairs has announced plans for electronic voting pilots to be held in May 2007 and are inviting proposals.
The prospectus states:
Research for the Electoral Commission released in 2003 shows there is significant
demand for electronic voting and that it may help stem the declining turnout at elections.
Yet the Electoral Commission’s own figures for the 2003 pilots showed that e-voting had no significant impact on turnout (more info)
It would seem that a year makes all the difference as in September 2005 Harriet Harman MP, a minister responsible said to Radio 4 that:
“We just think that the time is not right for it (e-voting) at the moment. We talked to a lot of people, we listened to a lot of views including from the Conservative Party. The general consensus seemed to be that the time is not right for it at the moment. So we are not going ahead with the pilots that we were planning to run otherwise in the May 2006 council elections.” (Source: The Independent)
What has changed since Ms Harman said those words, I do not know. Since 2003 The Electoral Commission have been repeatedly calling for a clear framework or road-map to be set out by government but nothing has emerged. Still they seem to be happily going along with these pilots. Why?
Some good news is that SMS, digital TV and all-postal voting have all been ruled out for 2007. Sense prevailed there thank goodness!
Despite repeated criticism from The Electoral Commission, suppliers, councils and qualified observers such as myself, the timetable is again tight. Applications close 17th November leaving the usual scant time for supplier selection, contractual agreements and technical work to be completed. Indeed the prospectus timetable leaves only February and March for development and testing – madness!. This process should, at the latest, have been begun in the summer. Also with the central electronic voter register project stalled, I wonder if now is a good time to be piloting anything?
Please write to your local councillors asking them to ensure that your local council does not waste tax payer money and risk the integrity of elections by applying to run a pilot.
Use WriteToThem for quick access to your local councillors.
The uncertain nature of elections to come [PDF] – detailed report on the serious failings in the planning, management and implementation of the 2003 pilots
Electronic Voting Doesn’t work – written for Electoral Reform Society
LEARN: I want to understand the issues – learn about the pros and cons of voting methods