Enough Internet voting trials says the UK Electoral Commission
On 2 August 2007, the Electoral Commission, independent body set up by the UK Parliament, recommended in its evaluation on the pilot schemes used in May 2007 elections to end electronic voting trials until the establishment of a strategy by the UK Government to modernise the electoral system and make it more secure.
The Electoral Commissions considers that there would be not much further to learn from any more electronic voting trials, as lessons have been gathered during the trials that took place during the last seven years when the Ministry of Justice commissioned thirteen local authorities in England to run pilot schemes. The Commission believes that it is time the government drafted a clear plan to change the way to run these elections.
"We have learnt a good deal from pilots over the past few years. But we do not see any merit in continuing with small-scale, piecemeal piloting where similar innovations are explored each year without sufficient planning and implementation time, and in the absence of any clear direction, or likelihood of new insights. ..We welcome the recent government green paper on constitutional reform; and we believe this needs to be supported by a clear plan for modernising elections. We continue to believe that the security of our electoral process needs to be strengthened through a system of individual registration" said Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission.
The reports issued by the Electoral Commission present an analysis of all the stages of the electronic voting including voting in advance, electronic counting and signing for ballot papers at the polling station and raises concerns related to the low public confidence in the security of these methods, technical difficulties and accessibility.
The recommendations of the Commission include the creation of a system for the registration of the individual voters, a more reliable testing and procurement process for electronic counting, a clear decision from the Government of whether they want to use electronic voting in advance of the polling day, the necessity for a strategy for the modernization of the electoral process and for security improvement. It also recommended that the value of ballot paper signing should be limited in case of the absence of individual registration.
The Commission considers that electronic voting should not be continued unless significant improvements were brought to better testing and that the system would need at least six months for implementation.
The Electoral Commission's report confirms experiences of the EDRI-member Open Rights Group (ORG) election monitoring teams, but does not recognize the fundamental challenges in using computers for elections.
Despite the Commission's and ORG report's conclusions, Michael Wills, the Election modernisation minister, does not seem to have understood the message and stated: "These evaluations point to instances where e-counting and e-voting have worked well, and where electors choose to vote remotely by internet or telephone they often had favourable responses to these innovations(...)The purpose of pilots is to learn lessons for the future and we will do so."
Electoral Commission calls for end to 'piecemeal' election pilots
Electoral Commission May 2007 pilot schemes reports (2.08.2007)
Halt e-voting, says election body (2.08.2007)
ORG welcomes Electoral Commission recommendation to halt pilots (2.08.2007)
Findings of the Open Rights Group Election Observation Mission in Scotland
and England (20.06.2007)