Privacy group slams government stance on e-voting

The Open Rights Group has condemned the UK government’s decision to continue with e-voting, despite calls from the Electoral Commission to abandon the scheme.

Privacy group slams government stance on e-voting

The commission, which oversees all elections in the UK, called on the government in August to suspend internet voting until the current system had been modernised and made more secure.

The government disagrees, claiming that each of its pilot e-voting tests, “supported successful elections”.

“The Government is not aware of any instances of alleged fraud during the elections and does not believe that the pilots increased the risk of electoral fraud,” the Ministry of Justice concluded. “We do not agree that the level of risk placed on accessibility and integrity was unacceptable.”

But Becky Hogge, executive director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), which played an active part in the monitoring of the pilot schemes, says that the government “has ignored the fundamental failings observed in trials so far”.

“It has ignored the analysis by computer security experts that shows the technology for secure computer-mediated voting does not currently exist, let alone a secure system for remote electronic voting,” she says.

“Remote voting systems also threaten the privacy of voting, allowing third parties to coerce and influence other voters, particularly within their household.”


The government report indeed acknowledges that there were some problems with access to e-voting, but insists that no-one was disenfranchised as a result of them and all potential e-voters retained the option to vote on paper at the ballot box.

However, Hogge argues that there are currently just too many factors that could undermine the veracity of e-voting.

“Elections are one of the most complicated areas it is possible to conceive of to which to apply digital technology,” she says. “Not only must the system be robust and easy to use, it must ensure voters’ anonymity and privacy, yet be transparent and auditable, and be completely secure against both external tampering and fraud by employees, consultants and the outsourced workers often used to develop components of the system.”

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