The Department for Constitutional Affairs' Contract Notice to supply e-voting and e-counting solutions for the pilots has some interesting bits of information.
The notice was dispatched 1st August '06 and published by an EU journal on 3rd. The closing date for a response was 1st September '06 and DCA were to notify candidates for negotiation on 18th September.
A month later on 17th October the notice requesting applications to run pilots from local authorities was published with a closing date of 17th November.
So, vendors had a month to prepare their initial proposals as did local authorities. I'm sure DCA notified favoured vendors and authorities before the official publication but strictly nobody should have been able to prepare their applications until the announcements were published. These were absurdly tight timescales for no good reason whatsoever. Either work should have started much sooner or they should have contracted for the next local elections, not this May.
DCA were very honest about their goals in the contract notice (emphasis mine):
The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) is exploring changes in electoral procedures to make elections straightforward, efficient, secure and, above all, readily accessible to all electors.
So, here we have it in black and white. Sir Alistair Graham was right – DCA put participation ahead of all other considerations. It's written in their own words, here's how it looks in the original:
This Contract Notice was released after a request was made to the DCA, however DCA have not published it. So it is available to download here [PDF]