April 19, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Open Rights Group will monitor UK elections with thirty observers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday 20th April

Taking advantage of new legislation, the Open Rights Group will field a team of thirty observers to monitor the conduct of this May’s electoral pilots. The implications of the new electronic voting and electronic counting technologies will be closely examined. Their impact on voter privacy, their vulnerability to fraud and general electoral transparency will be under close scrutiny. The Open Rights Group is taking advantage of the Election Administration Act 2006, which allows for independent observers accredited by the Electoral Commission to monitor UK elections. Open Rights Group observers will be watching the English electoral pilot schemes, which are deploying Internet voting, telephone voting and electronic counting technologies. Observation missions will travel to Bedford, Rushmoor, Sheffield, Shrewsbury and Atcham, South Bucks, Stratford and Swindon. Observers will also be monitoring Scottish elections where e-counting is set to be deployed widely for the first time.

The observersvolunteered using the innovative e-democracy website, PledgeBank.com, created by pioneering charity MySociety. Volunteers include computer security experts, usability specialists, mathematicians and programmers. All observers will receive operational guidelines based on international best practice, with advice from leading election monitoring organisations.

A report based on the observation mission will be published in June and submitted to the Electoral Commission and the Department of Justice (formerly Department for Constitutional Affairs) for inclusion in their evaluations of the electoral pilots.

“We hope that our dedicated, independent team of volunteer observers will be seen as a welcome contribution to the electoral process, “ commented Jason Kitcat, e- voting coordinator for the Open Rights Group. “Our observation mission aims to provide an independent viewpoint on how these new technologies are used in our election systems.”

Jason Kitcat is available for interview. Please call +44 (0) 7956 886 508 or email jason[at]jasonkitcat.com.

About the Open Rights Group The Open Rights Group is a digital rights advocacy group based in the UK. It aims to increase awareness of digital rights issues, help foster grassroots activity and preserve civil liberties in the digital age.

To find out more about the Open Rights Group’s e-voting campaign visit http://www.openrightsgroup.org/e-voting-main/. This e-voting observation mission has been funded by a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.