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Scotland plans for e-counting in council votes



Contract with CGI Group provides technology for electronic count in 2017 local elections

Votes in Scotland’s next round of local authority elections will be counted electronically, following the use of the technology in the 2012 poll.

The Scottish Government has signed a £6.5 million contract with IT and business process services firm CGI Group to provide the software and technical infrastructure for e-counting in 2017, covering 353 wards in all 32 local authorities.

The company provided the technology used in the 2012 elections.

The counting process for Scotland’s local government elections is more complex than for most other UK votes, as it uses the single transferable vote system, in which it is possible to provide an order of preference for each candidate.

Subsequently, manual counting could take three to four days, but the e-counting solution takes hours to scan the ballots and can make the necessary calculations in minutes.

CGI developed the technology with its partner Idox and said it will also improve the accuracy and auditability of results.

A spokesperson told UKAuthority: "The core solution will build on the successful election count in 2012 with updated hardware and software. We will be integrating enhanced workflow to offer improved oversight and upgrading election reporting, as well as enabling the introduction of postal ballots to the programme."

Step forward

Mary Pitcaithly, convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, said: “The award of this contract marks a significant step forward in the preparations for the local government elections in 2017. Over the past year, senior members of the electoral community have worked closely with the civil servants to develop an e-counting system specification, which builds on the successful experience of 2012 and will ensure the delivery of an accurate and transparent count”.

Maggie Morrison, CGI’s director, public sector, said it will spending at least a year testing the system with various local authority teams in the run-up to the elections. It will involve a large scale, publicly observed bulk test before the training begins in councils’ teams.

The company will also provide technical assistance on the day of the elections.

Picture by Alex Lee, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons



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