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e-Voting fumbles first Commons test

20/01/16

iPads fail to record votes of two MPs due to failure in listing their machines

The first use of electronic voting in the House of Commons left officials red faced after the names of two MPs were omitted.

greenTick_vote165x110Conservative Andrew Rosindell and Labour's Jim McMahon protested when they discovered they were not listed on the new iPads used to record votes.

Rosindell told Eleanor Laing, the deputy speaker: “This is the first time in 15 years that I've attempted to vote in the lobby and been denied the right to do so. My name was not on the tablet used. This is a denial of the rights of my constituents to be represented in a vote in the House of Commons.”

In reply, Laing admitted the first use of tablets for voting had “not gone perfectly smoothly”, but added: “We all learn from our mistakes”.

She rejected calls for a recount, assuring Rosindell his vote had been recorded - albeit not on the tablet - while McMahon confirmed a teller registered his vote.

EVEL move

The tablets have been introduced alongside the switch to ‘English votes for English laws’ (EVEL) in the wake of Scottish devolution. Commons clerks need to count quickly both how many English MPs, and how many MPs in total, support England-only measures – the so called ‘double majority’.

MPs were using the system for the first time as they voted on Labour's attempt to scrap the Government's policy to replace student maintenance grants with loans.

However, senior MPs have since suggested electronic voting will be introduced for all divisions – not simply EVEL votes – and before the end of the current parliamentary session next April.

Currently, the clerks strike out MPs’ names on printed lists, using black marker pens, under a system unchanged for decades and widely criticised as backward.

That system means constituents must wait several hours to find out how their MP has voted, until Hansard is published on the parliamentary website.

The House of Commons Commission, made up of senior MPs, said the “accurate recording of divisions and timely publication of division lists are critical”. It added: “Full implementation of tablet recording of divisions is expected to take place later in the current session.”

The aims were “improving the timely publication of division lists, making division data more accessible to the public and easier to analyse, and improving accuracy”.

 

 

 

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