Headlines: November 13th, 2000

New systems for processing ballot papers, such as those used in the election of London’s mayor, may be heading for redundancy. The next development is Internet voting using a personal computer, digital TV or mobile phone. The announcement that BT and election.com plan to work together to develop a range of electronic balloting and election services for the UK’s public and private sectors brings the prospect closer. The aim is to provide facilities that can be used for national elections down to ballots for local school governors. Digital signature will be used to authenticate voters and the project will benefit from work going on elsewhere to develop secure authentication arrangements.The advantages of Internet voting are that it may encourage more people to take part in an election process and it is considerably cheaper.

election.com UK, formerly Unity Security Balloting, was first approved by the Department of Trade and Industry as independent scrutineer for trade union ballots and elections in 1989. Since then it has conducted thousands of elections ranging from less than 50 to over one million. The company was recently independent scrutineer for the election of UNISON’s general secretary involving 1.4 million member