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DCA stands by postal vote software

Reported problems 'not an issue'

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The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has defended the technology to be used in verifying postal votes in May's local elections.

This follows reports that a number of councils have run into problems with the software to be used for the ballot.

The DCA said in a statement that it was not, to its knowledge, an issue for all returning officers or for many using the software provider Northgate.

It said the company had confirmed that only eight councils had not yet signed off on successful installation of the Pickwick postal vote identifier software. It has not yet clarified how many councils are due to use it.

"The government has provided the legislation, and significant sums of money (up to £12.2m) to implement postal vote identifiers," the DCA said. "We have worked closely with suppliers to ensure they will have appropriate products available, and continue to do so.

"They have all given assurances that they will have the appropriate systems in place. It is for returning officers to ensure they work closely with their chosen suppliers to complete installation of the software on their local IT in good time for the election."

Burnley BC, one of the councils selected for the trials, confirmed it had identified problems with the technology that would be used to read voter signatures on postal ballots.

A spokesperson told GC News that the software has been failing and that patches sent to fix the problem are causing data to be temporarily lost. The council is considering a number of manual security checks to overcome the problem.

The spokesperson added that council officials understand that other councils have been similarly affected.

Under new rules, voters can apply for postal ballots up to 11 days before the poll. A signature is required alongside a date of birth to provide identification.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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