ORG helped push e-voting off the agenda, but e-counting is still being used in Scotland and London despite clear evidence of problems. We have continued to meet regularly with government ministers and officials and the Electoral Commission, and also worked with the London Assembly.
Following the submission ORG made to the Assembly after the last election, we were asked to respond to a cost benefit analysis for the next elections in 2012. This compared hand and electronic counting and was meant to give a firm basis for an evidence-based decision. Although heavily biased towards e-counting, the report was forced to conclude the hand counting would be cheaper.
Unfortunately, the London Assembly’s Chief Executive and returning officer, Leo Bowland, prejudged our responses. Bowland declared in a meeting with us and others who were expecting to present our thoughts that he was going to use e-counting whatever our criticisms of the cost benefit analysis.
In the event, this backfired as the Electoral Commission had found the report wanting, and press criticism in the wake of comment by them and ourselves left the Assembly promising to look at the proposals again.
E-counting is not as insurmountable a problem as e-voting currently is, but it poses major problems of verification and reliability, which can only be solved by significant additional expenditure.