Sir Alistair Graham calls for e-voting pilots to be halted

Today, at the Association of Electoral Administrators conference in Brighton, Sir Alistair Graham, chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has publicly called for the 2007 electoral pilots in the UK to be halted. The Committee recently published their eleventh report which called for major reform of the Electoral Commission and our electoral system, particularly with regard to preventing fraud.

This is a major development – it’s the first time an establishment voice has called for the halt of e-voting pilots. The speech couldn’t be better, Sir Alistair makes every point I would have wanted to, he even notes that the government has been extremely misleading in their use of some figures from Northern Ireland. I’m so pleased!

Sir Alistair and the minister Bridget Prentice MP were on BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Prentice absolutely refused to accept anything Sir Alistair had to say.

Some choice quotes from the text online, delivery may have been different, but really read the whole thing as it’s all SO GOOD:

“Electoral fraud is not a trivial matter. It is an affront to the democratic principle of one-person one vote. Left unchecked it will eventually undermine trust and confidence in the democratic process and by implication the electorate’s consent to the outcome of elections.

“I should like to put this question to you. How does DCA or the Electoral Commission know about the extent of electoral fraud when neither of them have kept any statistics nor have undertaken any research on the issue? Is it that, in their obsession with increasing participation at all costs, they have turned a blind eye to the risks of electoral fraud and its consequences on the integrity of our democratic system?

“The current systems to combat electoral abuse in Great Britain are unsatisfactory already, so to proceed with these pilot schemes, appears ill-timed and betrays confusion over priorities. Unfortunately it appears to come down to the obsession with modernisation as a means of increasing participation at elections.

“In any event the primary responsibility for increasing participation at elections rests squarely with the political parties. Deep-seated voter disengagement will not be solved by tinkering with the mechanics of the electoral system.

“So in relation to the elections this May I am calling for the pilots to be put on hold. It is a matter of serious concern that we are experimenting with insecure methods of voting when the current registration and absent voting procedures are so insecure. In relation to the checking of absent votes in May there should be a guarantee of 100% checking.

“As the integrity of the electoral system in Great Britain is being damaged through increased incidents and perception of electoral fraud why are we not replicating the measures used successfully in Northern Ireland in Great Britain too?”

Full text of the speech (thanks Glyn)

UPDATE:

Links to news coverage…

BBC News Polling experiments ‘high risk’

Yorkshire Post Why ringing the electoral changes failed to dent voter apathy

thisislondon.co.uk Dump e-voting to stop fraud, Labour warned

24dash.com ‘Modern’ voting offers opportunities for fraud