The Electoral Commission has called for a halt to electronic voting unless major changes are made to the way the voting systems are implemented and secured.
The watchdog has issued a series of reports on pilot schemes commissioned by the Ministry of Justice that allowed internet and telephone voting in some areas of England in last May’s local elections. A second set of reports examined electronic counting pilots.
A report by independent observers from the Open Rights Group, published in June, painted a grim picture of crashed computers and concerns about the systems' security and reliability.
The group’s concerns are echoed in the new reports.
Electronic voting “should not be pursued any further without significant improvements to testing and implementation and a system of individual voter registration”, the commission said.
Although remote voting systems had “in broad terms” proved successful and facilitated voting, “the level of implementation and security risk involved was significant and unacceptable”, the watchdog found.
The commission found there had been “insufficient time available to
implement and plan the pilots, and the quality assurance and testing was undertaken too late and lacked sufficient depth”.
Limited testing and planning were also to blame for problems with e-counting pilots that saw the electronic count abandoned in favour of a manual count in three out of five test areas.