Feeds

What did happen to all those London mayoral votes?

We observe the election count

Mobile application security vulnerability report

The set up was apparently very simple: each of the four constituencies had a roped-off counting island, with ballot boxes stored in the middle, surrounded by scanners. Although observers were not permitted inside the roped-off area, screens facing outward would display thumbnail images of each ballot as the vote was tallied.

The postal votes were first through the scanners. Inevitably, there were some paper jams as the folded and often dog-eared bits of paper made their way through the machines. (The count began at 8:45, and I spotted my first paper jam at 8:47.) Things seemed to speed up a little as the counting staff became more familiar with the equipment, and as the postal vote was completed the scanners had to process fewer folded papers.

At the short ends of each constituency's rectangular island the adjudication staff sat at computers with double displays. This meant that ballots the scanners couldn't read would be clearly visible to observers, candidates and party agents outside the island. Second level adjudication, where votes could be discarded, was displayed on a big screen. Virtually all the party representatives clustered around these screens, arguing about whether or not a vote ought to be counted. I saw more than one stand-up row, as the finer points of election law were debated by very tired, very caffeine-fuelled people.

Just tell 'em Chad sent you

By 1:45pm the count had been running for five hours, and the machines in the North East constituency island had dealt with 216,000 of the almost 600,000 ballot papers. It was clear that the count would not be finished by 6:00pm, or even by 8:00pm. Fortunately, the second shift of the ORG team was due to start at 2:00pm, so I packed up my clipboard and, bleary-eyed (watching the scanned images flash by was oddly hypnotic), headed for home.

The most remarkable thing about the day was realising that election observers have only been allowed in the UK since 2006.

Anyone over the age of 16 can apply to be an election observer. I can wholeheartedly recommend it as an extremely interesting way of passing the time. Certainly any students of politics, even A-Level students, should make a point of registering and going along at the next opportunity.

We've been sending observers to elections abroad for years, to make sure emerging nations are doing it right, but our own electoral process was presumed to be above reproach.

It remains to be seen whether or not that is the case. Some of the staff involved in the count certainly seemed to think we'd be better off observing elections in places where there was actually widespread electoral fraud. But unless people check, how can you be sure that there isn't any here?

Important disclaimer: Although I was part of the Open Rights Group observation mission, I am by no means a spokesperson for same, nor should this report be interpreted as anything other than a personal account of an interesting couple of days. Further, in accordance with the rules election observers agree to abide by, this article has been provided to The Register free of charge. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.