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Report urges e-voting caution

James Rogers
A report from the Electoral Commission has urged the Government to be cautious of using e-voting in a general election.

The strategic report acknowledged that electronic voting had made a good start in this year's local elections but warned that more pilot schemes are needed. "It would be premature to suggest that the Government is well on its way to delivering against its commitment to having an 'e-enabled' election some time after 2006," it said.

In May's local elections in England some 30 councils tested a range of voting methods designed to encourage participation in elections and widen the range of voting methods on offer. These included voting via the Internet, SMS text messaging and all-postal voting.

Although no instances of fraud were reported, security was highlighted by the Electoral Commission as a key issue. The report said, "Further piloting is clearly necessary to tease out a number of issues and to establish further the security of these voting mechanisms."

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which is responsible for e-voting, said, "We welcome the Electoral Commission's report as an important and very helpful contribution to the electoral modernisation and e-voting program." The Government will be releasing a memorandum in response to the report in about one month's time, he added.

The Government is keen to expand the use of e-voting in UK elections. Last month's spending review allocated £30m over the next three years to its development.

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