UK cancels Internet voting plans

By EDRi · September 8, 2005

The UK government has announced it will drop pilots with Internet and telephone votes, scheduled for the local elections in May 2006. Answering a parliamentary question, Harriet Harman, the minister responsible, said government no longer looked for pilot requests from local authorities. She explained the time was not yet right for e-voting. This is a remarkable change in position. Labour always was very enthusiastic about remote (mobile phone or Internet) voting, and preferred it above electronic voting machines, as used in for example Belgium and the Netherlands. The decision to postphone the pilots was welcomed by the Conservative shadow-minister. He told the newspaper The Independent he thought the remote voting plans were reckless: “This lack of an adequate audit trail is extremely worrying in the light of the risk of fraud already exposed with all-postal voting.”

The UK government ruled out electronic voting as too expensive and unable to deliver the desired boost in turnout. A major advantage of electronic voting machines, the possibility to add a paper trail, was ignored. The UK Internet community consultant Jason Kitcat already reported in August 2005 that the ministry had not even sent out any invitations to suppliers, confirming the rumour that the pilots would be cancelled.

E-voting plans shelved (06.09.2005)

Web and text vote trials dropped (06.09.2005)

2006 e-voting pilots cancelled (26.08.2005)