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Observations of the Scottish elections 2007

Russell Lock (School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)
Tim Storer (School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)
Natalie Harvey (School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)
Conrad Hughes (School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, UK)
Ian Sommerville (School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 30 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an observational examination of the recent Scottish elections, within which an e‐counting system was employed to manage the increased complexity of the Scottish electoral system for the first time.

Design/methodology/approach

Observations of an ethnographic nature, supplemented by written documentation used for both training and public consumption during the Scottish election process.

Findings

It was found that the voting system for the Scottish elections had not received sufficient review or testing prior to the election; further that the design choices imposed by the DRS software did not support the actions of its users efficiently enough, or justify confidence in the dependability of the system.

Practical implications

That the deployment of e‐counting systems requires careful consideration; many of the issues raised in this paper are similar to those of the official Scottish Elections Review, to which our team provided input.

Originality/value

The Scottish elections were the first to allow members of the public to register as election observers, accredited by the Electoral Commission. As such, the Scottish elections represented the first large‐scale opportunity to observe such processes for the academic community.

Keywords

Citation

Lock, R., Storer, T., Harvey, N., Hughes, C. and Sommerville, I. (2008), "Observations of the Scottish elections 2007", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 104-118. https://doi.org/10.1108/17506160810876185

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited