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Promising Verdict for E-Elections

2 May 2003

Live trails of electronic voting systems in 17 councils across England appear to have had many successes.  Initial turnout figures from councils experimenting with new ways of voting in the local government elections indicate the pilots were well received, but were less effective at increasing participation than postal voting.

Swindon Borough Council, one of the local authorities participating in the trials, and their IT partner the Athena Consortium reported that 7.5 per cent of the electorate voted electronically. Between 6am on 24 April and midday on 30 April, 6,895 electors voted via the Internet, 2,792 by telephone, 339 via interactive digital television (iDTV) and 163 used street kiosks.

The Athena Consortium also managed the first e-voting trials at Stroud District Council, which saw 4,176 district council electors voting electronically.  Mike Rowan, Returning Officer for Stroud, commented: "We’re extremely pleased with our first e-turnout which exceeds 20% of the total.  We have enjoyed universal positive feedback from electors and look forward to working with the Athena Consortium to build on this success at future  elections."

Elsewhere, St Albans District Council experienced some technical problems with electronic kiosks resulting in delays in the elections results being announced.

The pilots represented one of the largest implementations of electronic voting technologies ever undertaken in Europe, allowing 1.4 million voters the opportunity to cast their ballot electronically at polling stations, interactive kiosks, or from home via the internet, touch-tone telephone, digital TV or text message.

News provided by eGov monitor

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