Feeds

Electoral Commission criticises London e-counting

'Significant concerns'

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Electoral Commission has registered concerns over the electronic counting of votes in London's recent elections.

It highlights a number of issues in a report on the elections for the mayor and the London Assembly. Among these are apparent discrepancies between the number of ballot papers recorded as having been issued and the number scanned.

It also expresses concern at the high level of technical knowledge required to understand and properly scrutinise electronic counting systems, and errors in the transmission of results data to the central count collation centre at City Hall. Also, the Commission was not able to review the results of quality assurance audits before the publication of the report.

Overall, however, it says that electronic counting was better planned and managed than at previous elections where votes had been counted electronically.

Its findings reflect those of an earlier report (pdf) from the Open Rights Group, which it accredited as an observer to the elections. This says that over-sensitive scanners could have caused some blank ballots to record votes, and that the screens by the scanners provided data that was meaningless to observers.

A spokesperson for London Elects, which organised the elections, suggested the problems had been overstated. He said the discrepancies over the number of ballot papers were due to human error rather than technology, and that the transmission errors affected only votes for the mayoral election in just two out of nearly 4,000 wards.

He acknowledged a difference in perspective on e-counting, but said: "We welcome the Commission's report on the election and will continue our fruitful relationship in working with them on the 2012 election."

The Electoral Commission called on the government to instigate a national strategy for using electronic counting before it is used in future UK elections. This should include carrying out a full cost-benefit analysis of electronic counting, an analysis of the legal changes required to support it, and appropriate safeguards to ensure it is accurate and transparent.

Andrew Scallan, director of electoral administration and boundaries for the Electoral Commission, said that overall the election was well-run, but that: "It is essential that the public can have confidence in all aspects of the electoral process and we still have significant concerns about the use of electronic counting for elections in the UK.

"We continue to press the government for a national strategy on the use of electronic counting and we also want to see the Greater London returning officer carry out a comparison of the costs and benefits of both electronic and manual options for counting ballot papers before the next GLA elections in 2012."

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.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.