Digital Privacy

London e-counting: Boris doesn’t want to know

An update following on from the Greater London Assembly’s decision to charge ahead with e-counting regardless of the cost or criticism from the Electoral Commission. Conservative London Assembly member Andrew Boff submitted a question to Mayor Boris Johnson which ORG considered helpful in potentially revealing how strongly the GLA’s political leadership believed in spending at least £1.5 million extra for the risk and complexity of e-counting. Sadly the response was a complete dodge:

Question No: 3574 / 2009
Andrew Boff

For the 2012 elections would the Mayor prefer a £5million+ electronic count where the bulk of the costs would go to a foreign computer company or a £3.5million manual count where the bulk of the costs would go into Londoner’s pockets?

Answer from the Mayor:

The Authority’s Scheme of Delegation quite properly gives the Chief Executive, in his role as the Greater London Returning Officer, the right to take all the decisions about how GLA elections are delivered. That accords entirely with the practice across the country that politicians contest elections, and do not decide how they should be run. (Source)

The answer avoids the fact that the Mayor and Assembly have budget setting powers, or that electoral modernisation in the UK has been very obviously driven by politicians thus far. Boris either doesn’t care, doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to take on his Chief Executive. The question now becomes, how do we hold the Greater London Authority’s Chief Executive to account about election arrangements if the directly elected Mayor won’t?