I’d have thought it was obvious that those who had chosen not to vote online and turned up on election day at the polling station would, in most cases, prefer to vote in the conventional manner. A few moments to put a cross on a piece of paper, or over a minute to work through several screens of an online system? Rather a no-brainer, isn’t it? Apparently not to those at Swindon Borough Council that were presiding over the election. Not only were some polling stations completely unready, initially, for those wishing to put a cross in a box on a ballot paper, but even when they were ‘correctly’ set-up, laptops in booths outnumbered blunt, short stumpy pencils hanging in booths by five-to-one in many cases. And the need for people to assist voters with the electronic voting added two extra staff to most polling stations compared with previous years.
Then there was the fragility of the communications system. I’m prepared to accept (just) that the unreliability of the wireless communications from the polling stations could not have been foreseen, but were wireless connections, from urban polling stations, really necessary?
After some extra checks, necessitated by the breakdown in communication, the electronic votes were finally delivered two and a half hours after the paper votes had been counted. And the benefit of all this new technology making it ‘easier’ to vote? A turnout slightly down on last year.