E-vote lost London mayoral votes, group claims

Electronic voting used in the recent election that saw Boris Johnson elected London mayor mislaid or miscounted 41,000 ballots, the Open Rights Group has said.

Electronic voting methods miscounted or mislaid as many as 41,000 ballots in the recent London Mayoral elections, the Open Rights Group (OPG) has claimed.

The group placed 27 observers at polling stations during the count, and has filed a report today on the integrity of the operation.

"On count day, efforts towards transparency around the recording of valid votes were nothing more than a pretence: hundreds of screens were set up by the scanners to show almost meaningless data to observers, party candidates and agents, while officials admit that underneath the system was likely to be recording blank ballots as valid votes," said a report from the ORG.

Because of these problems, as well as paper jams in the counting machines and several crashes and freezes of the system, the observers were unable to conclude whether the count was successful and accurate, and have advised that a full cost/benefit analysis of electronic counting be undertaken.

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The independent company Indra was paid around 4.5 million to run the vote by London Elects, the group overseeing the vote.

"ORG concludes that there is insufficient evidence available to independent observers to state reliably whether the results declared are an accurate representation of the intentions of voters in the May 2008 London elections," continued the report.

Despite the issues, it is unlikely that the count problems affected the outcome significantly. Boris Johnson won by well over 100,000 votes and no parties complained about the accuracy of the results.

Last year, similar concerns were raised about electronic voting in local elections.

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