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UK.gov ditches 'Big Brother'-style e-voting

What a shambles, say Tories

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The Government has ditched plans for electronic voting at next year's local elections, it emerged today.

The news was slipped out in a written answer during the summer recess prompting the Tories to describe plans for "widespread electronic voting and an 'e-enabled general election' by next year" as "a shambles".

Rounding on the Government Oliver Heald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, described the Government's e-voting plans as "reckless" and "insecure".

"Past e-voting pilots in local elections have proved expensive and not delivered any significant increase in turnout," said Heald.

"The Government must retain the tried and trusted ballot box as the foundation of British democracy.

"Restoring public confidence in our electoral system is more important than spending taxpayers' money on 'Big Brother' text messaging gimmicks.

"This lack of an adequate audit trail is extremely worrying in the light of the risk of fraud already exposed with all-postal voting," he said.

But a spokesman for the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) insisted that although people would not be able to vote electronically next year, the Government was still keen to monitor its future use.

"The Government believes that the time is not yet right to take forward the piloting of e-voting," said a spokesman.

"We are not ruling out piloting e-voting in the future and any future plans will be taken forward at the appropriate time."

The Government set out its plans for alternative voting back in 2002 when the late Robin Cook said he hoped it would "enhance citizens' involvement" in the democratic process.

In March, research carried out by pollsters MORI found that the vast majority of Brits reckon high-tech voting methods - such as voting by email or through a dedicated website - would make electoral fraud easier to commit. ®

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