The E-democracy Adviser will play a critical role in evaluating the security and performance of e-voting trials in local authorities over the next three years, as the Government strives to meet its target of holding an electronic general election after 2006.
E-voting trials have aroused concern in some corners of government because of the tight deadlines, which leave little or no margin for error, and what has been seen as a lack of strategic direction from central government.
Crucially, the appointment, due to be advertised this week, will give the Electoral Commission, which acts as an independent watchdog, in-house expertise to assess the technologies on trail.
"The Government is committed to an e-enabled general election. The Electoral Commission has a role to evaluate pilots that will lead to that outcome. If we say it is not working, it will be on the advice of the person we appoint," said Nicole Smith, director of policy.
The commission's e-democracy guru will need a strong knowledge of IT security, and will be expected to help to develop security standards for the technologies on test, and to assess how well suppliers meet those standards.
Whoever takes the job will need to win the trust of participating system suppliers and have excellent communication skills, the commission said. "They will need to be able to translate technical skills into layman's language. The decision [on e-voting] will not be taken by technical people, but by politicians at the local and national level. We need to make sure we can inform the politicians in an effective way," said Smith.
The commission is looking for someone with at least five years of experience in IT systems development and specialist knowledge of at least one of the platforms used for e-voting.