E-counting returns after 2007 fiasco
VOTERS will see the return of a controversial electronic counting system at tomorrow's council elections.
It was first introduced after the Scottish Parliament voted to bring in the Single Transferable Vote System in 2004.
But when it was used in 2007's Holyrood election it ended in a fiasco and 140,000 ballot papers were rejected by returning officers.
This prompted last year's ballot papers in the Holyrood elections to be counted by hand.
But almost 270 of the electronic counting machines, formerly provided by Logica, will return to handle Thursday's election votes.
These machines will be provided by Opt2Vote.
The Scottish Government claims continuing with the manual count would involve employing more staff and increased count venue costs because the process takes longer.
Experts say counting ballot papers by hand would have taken two to three days to conduct, but e-counting can be done in just a few hours.
It's also claimed the new system offers greater transparency of the election process and provides valuable post-election data.
More large-scale testing has been carried out and greater numbers of ballot papers scanned during trials to test the robustness of the system for Thursday's count.
Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said: "It has been rigorously tested in mock counts involving more than 250,000 ballots."
The re-introduction of electronic counting follows recommendations made by the Gould Report into the disasterous elections in 2007.
It recommended that no ballot paper should be automatically rejected by the e-counting system.
The cost of electronica counting for the 2007 combined Scottish Parliament and Scottish local government elections was approximately £8.5m.
This year's 2012 contract costs around £5.2million, but politicians and technology bosses insist the 2012 system will not suffer from the same problems.
Chris George, a director of Logica, said: "The key thing has been the close working relationship between Logica, the Scottish Government and the returning officers to ensure everyone is happy with the way it operates and is confident in its use."
The first count declarations are anticipated to be announced from around lunchtime.
This article appeared in Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter 02 May 12
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