exploring the advantages and disadvantages of voting via the
internet, television or phone as an important contribution to the
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: