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Who is enfranchised by remote voting?
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Who is enfranchised by remote voting?


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Presented in Edinburgh at IEEE software and applications conference

Presented in Edinburgh at IEEE software and applications conference

Published in: Technology, News & Politics

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  • 1. Who is enfranchised by remote voting? Ian Brown University College London
  • 2. Falling turnout in UK elections
    • Last two general elections saw turnout of 59% and 61%; post-war range previously 70-80%
    • Local council elections regularly see turnout of under 30%
    • 18-24 age group particularly under-represented
    • E-voting promoted in UK to reverse these trends
  • 3. UK remote voting
    • Postal voting recently extended to all, gives key data for e-democracy
    • May 2002 council election trials using Web, SMS and telephone mechanisms
    • Next general election should be “e-enabled”
    • Pencil technology now too complex?
  • 4. Postal voting
    • Average in all-postal vote areas in May 2002 local trials had turnout 15% up on national average…
    • BUT MORI concluded that those who voted by post in 2001 general election were “almost entirely those who would have voted in any case.”
  • 5. E-voting trial results
    • Technology trials had no significant effect on turnout despite novelty value and heavy publicity
    • Trials did not become the “Big Brother” elections govt planned!
    • “ very few people claim to vote, or not vote, because of the voting arrangements. Wider attitudes to politics, the parties and the election in question play a more important role.” –Electoral Commission
  • 6. Is e-voting fraud plausible?
    • Birmingham City Council 2004 election fraud “ would disgrace a banana republic”
    • Postmen coerced into handing over sacks of empty postal ballots and also completed ballots
    • Labour supporters collected ballots from voters
    • Judge concerned by number of amended ballots
  • 7. Caught in the act
    • Six men discovered by police in warehouse with 274 unsealed ballots
    • Three were candidates
    • One (a trustee of a mosque) had signed 121 papers under five names and six addresses
    • Another Labour Party official was caught with ten sets of unused postal ballots
    • Britain’s electoral system is now “an open invitation to fraud”
  • 8. Conclusions
    • Postal voting has increased turnout, but evidence on increased demographic range is mixed – aside from fraudsters
    • Remote e-voting trials found little technology effect even with novelty value
    • Potential for fraud demonstrated in most immediate way. Electoral Commission has called for scrapping of all-postal voting