The Government have announced today that they do not plan to run e-voting pilots during the 2009 European or local elections. Answering a written question from Conservative MP Eleanor Laing, Michael Wills stated that:
"Further work on remote electronic voting will be funded as necessary from existing budgets agreed for Electoral Modernisation, subject to ministerial and HM Treasury approval. The Government are currently taking stock of the previous work on remote e-voting, including the experience gained in earlier pilots, and the responses to the consultation on election day, to inform the way forward."
As we observed when we released our highly critical report of e-counting in this year's London Elections, the electoral timetable was always likely to preclude the deployment of computers in elections for next year.
The interesting thing to see will be whether HM Treasury approve the Ministry of Justice Electoral Modernisation budget for 2009. Normally, this would be a formality, but in these times of fiscal prudence the Treasury may be encouraged to see sense and cut the budget for this doomed programme, which, as the Open Rights Group has long contested, presents a real threat to our democracy.