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Local government minister Nick Raynsford today welcomed new research ...
Local government minister Nick Raynsford today welcomed new research

exploring the advantages and disadvantages of voting via the

internet, television or phone as an important contribution to the

e-voting debate.

The project, led by De Montfort University, aimed to identify the

barriers to e-voting and to suggest ways of overcoming them in order

to pave the way for an e-enabled general election some time after

2006. It was funded by a partnership of the government (DTLR and

Office of the E-Envoy), the Electoral Commission, Improvement and

Development Agency, Local Government Association and the Society of

Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE).

Key findings include:

- Multi-channel voting is the way forward. Electors should be able

to choose from a range of ways to vote, including the traditional

polling station, to suit their commitments and lifestyles.

- Elections should continue to be administered locally as this

offers a range of security and operational benefits.

- There is public support for e-voting but a programme of education

will be needed to support those less confident in using new


- Pilots should lie at the heart of the implementation strategy.

Remaining technical or legal concerns around e-voting should be

explored including through the Electoral Commission evaluation of the


Mr Raynsford said:

'The government is currently looking at ways to modernise the

electoral process - making it more relevant to modern life. We have

in place a structured programme of research, pilots and thorough

evaluation to explore new ways of voting, including electronic


'Any changes to the voting system must be properly researched to

ensure that they are of real benefit to the public, as well as

incorporating effective safeguards, against abuse. Today's report

makes an important contribution to the e-voting debate. We are

encouraged that it supports the principle of pilots, that a choice of

voting methods should be our goal, and that public confidence is

crucial to its success.

'The report also raises the important issue of security. We all agree

that any new methods of voting must be seen to be at least as secure

as the traditional methods of voting. What we learn from pilots,

thorough evaluation and research will be crucial in helping determine

how we can best extend voting options to encourage greater

participation while safeguarding the fundamental principles of a

secret and secure ballot.

'The UK is leading the way with e-voting and the success of the 2 May

pilots was very important. However, we will not rush ahead but take

this important agenda through at a sensible pace with the aim for the

possibility of an e-enabled general election some time after 2006.'

Jeremy Beecham, chair of the LGA, said:

'The LGA welcomes this research. The way we vote today has remained

largely unchanged for the last 130 years. Modernisation of the

process - to reflect modern lifestyles and take advantage of new

technologies - is long overdue and local authorities have been

leading the way in testing a range of possible new methods. But it is

also essential that any new arrangements command voter confidence.

This report provides a useful agenda of issues still to be


Sam Younger, chair of the Electoral Commission said:

'This is a timely and valuable report. When you put it together with

the electronic voting pilots in this month's elections, on which the

Commission will be publishing an evaluation report later in the

summer, it gives us a much firmer basis than we have yet had to take

forward the debate on electronic voting.'

* The Implementation of Electronic Voting in the UK(summary and full report) are available on the DTLR's website.


1. The idea for this research emerged in 2000 from the SOLACE

Electoral Matters Panel. They approached other local government

partners, the government and the Electoral Commission and all to

agreed to collaborate in commissioning this research.

2. De Montfort University, with the University of Essex and BMRB,

were commissioned in August 2001 to consider the context in which

electronic voting could be successfully introduced for local,

European parliament and general elections in the UK.

3. The project involved: a comprehensive review of relevant documents

and data; focus groups with members of the public drawn from

different socio-demographic backgrounds and with different attitudes

to voting and technology; case studies in seven of the local

authorities involved in piloting new approaches to voting in the

local elections; and interviews with key stakeholders. Through this

approach, the feasibility of possible implementation options has been

assessed in terms of a detailed criteria, including issues of

security, public acceptance and technical capability.

4. The report is published by the LGA and available via: The Local

Government Association, Local Government House, Smith Square, London,

SW1P 3HZ. Telephone: 020 7664 3000, Fax: 020 7664 3030, E-mail:

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