By: Bob McDowall, , IE4C
Published: 8th June 2004
Copyright IE4C © 2004
In parts of Northern England the electorate continues to endure the rigours of a manually intensive postal ballot (not to mention the complex postal voting forms) for the local and European election on 10th June. By contrast London will, at least, count the votes electronically for the Assembly, the London Mayoral ballot and the European Parliament elections through e-counting.
E-counting services are a quicker, and more accurate form of vote counting in complex elections. The e-counting services will be provided by DRS Data & Services (www.drs.co.uk), a Milton Keynes based company, which was awarded the contract to provide a full range of voting services to London on 10th June. DRS will deliver the results to this complex vote by the evening of 11th June, a process which would have taken at least 5 days if the count had been conducted manually.
The London Elections are complex. There will be a large volume of voters over 5 million in number. There are three ballot papers:
DRS e-counting systems capability enables multiple votes and different voting systems to be calculated at the same time
DRS specialises in high volume, complex and time critical electronic capture of data. It has both UK and international experience of e-counting, having provided e-counting services for selected county council and constituency elections in the UK and as variously far apart as Norway, Hong Kong and Bosnia Herzegovina !
DRS is delivering a full range of voting services:
E-counting involves a number of complex steps. The ballot papers are scanned through specifically designed technology. This records the votes cast on the ballot papers as well as capturing the images of ballot papers, where there may be a dispute over the voter's intention. Data is stored in a secure environment on a central database. Barcodes are printed on each ballot paper identifying the electoral contest, reducing any possibility of fraud. Electoral forms can be electronically accessed and retrieved by the Returning Officer and Staff where there is a need for adjudication.
Is this a prelude to wide scale electronic election processes such as e-voting ? DRS is, incidentally, developing an e-voting solution (VotaPad).
Some of the advantages of e-voting are self-evident. Once the system is established It is easy to maintain and efficient to operate. Referenda and more frequent voting on local issues could be efficiently conducted. Vote counting is easier. It would be easier to initiate more frequent referenda and administer vote counts on a proportional representation basis.
The disadvantages lie primarily in the possibility that this form of voting could replace traditional voting methods, on the basis that is less costly and more efficient to administer. This could disenfranchise older sections of the population, but to whose Political advantages? It could be a prelude to some form of compulsory voting, as in Australia. Politicians of all parties are increasingly concerned about the growing lack of interest in local and national politics as expressed through electoral turnout. Compulsory voting would be easier to administer through e-voting.
Posted: 12th June 2004 | By The Truth Seeker :
Has anyone noticed that each postal vote has a unique code that is identical on both the voting paper AND the declaration of identity (look at the barcodes)...i know this is supposedly to prevent electoral fraud...which is fair enough...but...it seems to me that having this code on both sheets is somewhat unnecessary (feel free to prove me wrong)....so...if the vote is counted electronically, surely this would make it incredibly simple for the government to keep a record of what party each voter voted for...and i dont think i need to tell the world...that is NOT a good thing.
Posted: 18th June 2004 | By jenjenjuloola :
the system described sounds perfectly ok, but what about that of the uSA where the electronic ballot system is underfire for its possible bias and the fact that it has not been independantly verified? if we continue down the electronic voting system route will we not end up in a a similar predicament? or is the UK parliament too 'sensible' and well structured for that? answers on a postcard please...
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