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Scottish Government gets electronic voting system for local elections

The contract to design the electronic vote counting system for the 2017 local elections in Scotland has been awarded to CGI

The Scottish Government has contracted CGI to develop a vote counting system that will be used in the local elections in 2017.

The elections use the single transferable vote system (STV), which is a form of proportional representation where votes choose multiple candidates in order of preference. As a result, manual counting would take up to four days.

CGI provided an electronic vote counting system at the same elections in 2012. The current contract, worth around £6.5m, covers all 32 Scottish local authorities. There are about 1,200 councillors in 353 wards.

“Following on from the success of electronic counting in the 2012 local government elections, the Scottish Government will work with CGI to build on the past experience to deliver an effective and transparent e-counting system which will meet all expectations,” said Marco Biagi, minister for local government and community empowerment.

Mary Pitcaithly, convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, said members of the electoral community have worked closely with the civil servants to develop an e-counting system specification.

“The next 12 months will be of vital importance as we engage in a robust testing regime of the e-counting system in advance of the elections in 2017,” said Maggie Morrison, director of public sector at CGI Scotland.

The system will undergo a year of testing, culminating in a large-scale, publicly observed bulk test before local teams will be trained at every local authority.

CGI will increase its team focused on the system to 300 people during the election month, with technical assistance provided onsite during election day.

In 2007, the electronic voting system in Scotland was less successful. Seven counts were suspended and thousands of ballot papers were recorded as spoiled after the system, which was supplied by DRS, struggled to cope with the most complex election in Scottish history. CGI won the contract for the next election.

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