Gov't rules out e-voting for 2009 elections

The government has said it has no plans to use electronic voting for next year's European or local elections , but has hinted that further trials of the technology could take place in the future

As the US gets ready to head to the polls, the UK government is making its own electoral plans — plans that won't involve e-voting.

In a written answer to parliament, MP Michael Wills, minister of state for the Ministry of Justice, said there are no plans to embrace e-voting in the short term.

"The government do not plan to introduce e-voting for the 2009 European or local elections," he said.

E-voting, however, hasn't been ruled out totally: Wills hinted that further trials of the technology could be on the way in the future.

"The way forward more generally on e-voting will be informed by the valuable experience gained from earlier pilots, analysis of the responses to the election day consultation, and further development work including the possible further testing of e-voting solutions in non-statutory elections," he said.

According to Wills, no budget for testing has been allocated and any funding for further pilots will come from budgets already earmarked for electoral reform.

He added: "The government are currently taking stock of the previous work on remote e-voting, including the experience gained in earlier pilots, and the responses to the consultation on election day, to inform the way forward."

While the UK may still be adopting a wait and see approach to e-voting, other countries are going full steam ahead, with Estonia recently allowing citizens to cast their ballots over the web.

However, controversy has dogged electronic voting in the UK, with observers at a trial of the tech in last year's local elections revealing they had "serious concerns" about such a system after seeing it at work.

Officially accredited election observers the Open Rights Group, who attended the May 2007 pilot, said in a report: "Inadequate attention was given to system design, systems access and audit trails. Systems used both inappropriate hardware and software, and were insufficiently secured."

The Electoral Commission has also advised the government to put e-voting pilots on hold.

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