ORG plots e-voting observation

Keeping a watchful eye on things

Digital rights activist, the Open Rights Group (ORG), says it will be sending 30 observers to monitor the UK's trial of electronic voting technologies in the May 2007 local elections.

The team is meeting with the Electoral Commission this morning, where it says it expects its "observer status" will be accredited.

The group is taking advantage of new legislation, the Electoral Administration Act 2006, that allows independent observers, provided they are accredited buy the Electoral Commission, to monitor elections in the UK.

The team will be specifically watching for the impact of the new technologies on things like voter privacy, as well as watching them for their vulnerabilty to fraud and overall transparency.

This is the first time the independent observer scheme will be used in the UK. Any organisation, or individual over 16, can apply to be accredited, the Electoral Commission says. The legislation gives observers automatic rights to attend any election in the UK without notice. These same rights do not extend to Scotland, but permission can still be sought from the returning officer.

The ORG plans to send its observers to Bedford, Rushmoor, Sheffield, Shrewsbury and Atcham, South Bucks, Stratford, and Swindon. It also plans to send people to monitor the Scottish elections where electronic counting will be used for the first time.

Jason Kitcat, e-voting coordinator for the Open Rights Group, said: "Our observation mission aims to provide an independent viewpoint on how these new technologies are used in our election systems."

The group plans to publish a report based on its observations this June. It will also send its findings to the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Electoral Commission.

If you want to be an observer, or find out more about the process, point your browser here for a start. ®

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