‘Cheap and cheerful’ States electronic voting proposed

A ‘CHEAP and cheerful’ solution to providing electronic voting in the States chamber is being investigated after the meetings in lockdown showed the States’ Assembly and Constitution Committee what was possible.

States Assembly & Constitution Committee president Deputy Carl Meerveld. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29187502)
States Assembly & Constitution Committee president Deputy Carl Meerveld. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29187502)

At its second meeting of the year, Sacc was joined by States chief information officer Colin Vaudin, who was charged with the job of finding a suitable programme.

The previous Sacc had told the States that a report on simultaneous electronic voting was likely to be ready in the early part of last year, but the Covid-19 pandemic put that on hold.

It also led to States members meeting remotely using Microsoft Teams – a situation which the committee agreed would have been unthinkable this time last year.

Voting had been done via an app on members’ phones or their computer, and it was this option that Sacc president Carl Meerveld said should be explored for use during meetings.

Previously it had been thought that members would have a button on their desks in the chamber, but the cost of installing this and in having the necessary software would have run into many thousands, said Mr Vaudin – certainly a lot more than the £20,000 estimated in 2011.

‘We are in a very different world,’ said Deputy Meerveld. Members had adapted to using Teams and, even if there was a problem with the technology, votes had taken place and meetings had continued.

There had been a lot of opposition in the previous Assembly to the idea of electronic voting, but he said that members had shown they could adapt.

He wondered if a phone and computer app would be all that was needed, as long as all the votes were sent to the States Greffier promptly.

‘Cheap and cheerful gets the job done, with some back-up processes,’ he said.

While the majority of the committee agreed that this was the way forward, Lester Queripel was the sole dissenting voice: ‘I’ve never seen the need for electronic voting,’ he said.

He often calls for recorded votes on matters in the Assembly and said that these take only a minute and a half.

But it was pointed out to Deputy Queripel that electronic voting would see full transparency on all votes taken, not just those that were recorded.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News