Answering some questions about e-voting (part 1)

My most recent post on this subject was constructively challenged by someone I respect highly. This person asked:

  1. What are ‘high logistical and environmental costs’, in £££ and time?
  2. How many people are affected by mobility issues, visual impairments or other things preventing them from going to polling places.
  3. Concerning proxy voting, postal voting and statutory aids for people with visual impairments:
    1. How many people are involved?
    2. How many would benefit from the change?
  4. How often does it happen that polling places become unavailable?
  5. What would success in increasing turnout (due to e-voting) look like?
  6. Concerning ‘facilitating reliable and rapid results (including fewer spoilt ballots)’:
    1. What speed up could be expected?
    2. How many spoiled ballots happen?
    3. And under e-voting, how many errors?
    4. What are the risks & consequences of hacking?
  7. Concerning ‘reducing the costs of paper ballots’:
    1. What does it cost?
    2. How much would it cost to run e-voting instead?
  8. Interesting question is how/whether e-voting helps or hinders a sense of community…

This post attempts some back-of-a-fag-packet answers to questions 1, 2 and 3. The other questions will have to wait for another post.

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More thoughts about Online Identity Assurance and e-voting

(With thanks to Peter Cruickshank for raising the public money issue, and for suggestions on reading)

On Tuesday 19 June, I was at two events. The first was a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance stakeholder group. The second was a seminar on Vote.Scot: Shaping the future of online voting in Scotland. They provided a very interesting set of information and questions. Continue reading

More thoughts about e-voting – and participatory budgeting

(with thanks to Liam Bell for feedback on the first draft.)

On Tuesday 12 June, I was at a workshop organised by the Scottish Government (SG) to consider how lessons from e-voting, as used in participatory budgeting (PB), can inform SG’s investigations of how e-voting might be used in Scottish elections. A key theme of the discussion was how a system that would initially be used for PB voting could be set up so that it would ‘naturally’ evolve to be used for other voting ‘use-cases’.

It’s not my aim to describe what others said at the meeting: a scribe took detailed notes and I hope that a transcript will be published soon. However, I hope this post will describe my thinking, and how it’s evolved a bit since I last wrote about e-voting. Continue reading

Have your say on Scotland’s Open Government Action Plan

(This is a copy of a post on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development blog.)

Do you want to help transform government?

Imagine a country where citizens and governments come together to solve the most pressing challenges we face; where the decision making process is transparent and accountable, and where you have a real say in the policies and services that shape your life.

Whether you would like more opportunities to be involved in public service decision making; to see more information or data released in areas such as transport or education; or want more information on how public money is spent, open government is for you!

What is open government?

Governments use public money to shape the society we live in. The decisions they take impact on the day to day quality of life that we enjoy. Open governments do not just allow us to see what decisions are made, they allow us to take part in shaping them and provide us with the information we need to examine and challenge their choices.

An open government is one that shares information, empowers people to hold their actions to account and supports people to take part in the decisions over public policies and services that affect them.

A good example is participatory budgeting (a way for people to make decisions on how public money is spent), which was one of Scotland’s first commitments to Open Government. It has been hugely successful in both uptake and impact, being widely implemented all across Scotland, with thousands of people taking part and having their say on how public money should be spent. This progress on participatory budgeting demonstrates the impact it has had on opening up public budgets and encouraging public participation in decision making.

Let's make Scotland work for you!

Have your say!

Do you have an idea for how government could be done differently in Scotland? Perhaps more participatory budgeting, more information on public finances or greater understanding of how policy decisions are made? If so, we need your help to make open government the new normal in Scotland.

What’s in store?

In June and July 2018 the Scottish Government and Open Government Network will be inviting the public and civil society organisations to share their ideas that can help make government in Scotland work better for its people.

There are a number of ways to get involved.


From Tuesday 29th May, you will be able to submit your own ideas online and browse the ideas that people are discussing.


 Join us at locations across Scotland for a series of events where you can tell us in person your ideas for change. Find out more and register.

Help us spread the word

We need your help to get the message out about our plans to develop Scotland’s next Open Government Action Plan. Can you share via your newsletters, repost this blog on your website or pass on our leaflet to your networks and peers?

Events list

What happens with your input?

Once the crowdsourcing of ideas has finished the team will analyse all the input ahead of a meeting of the OGP Steering Group, which consists of eight network members and eight government officials.

The OGP Steering Group will use your input to develop between three and five commitments that will make up Scotland’s second Open Government Action Plan, which must be ready by the end of July 2018.

Behind the scenes – the process

Since the turn of the year work has been underway to develop improved processes and a project plan ahead of creating Scotland’s 2018/20 open government action plan. We’re now all set to press ahead.

You can find out more about the planning process and Scotland’s OGP Steering Group here.

Online Identity Assurance – approaching the next phase #identityassurance @digitalscots

5 useful facts about the OLA programme

Illustration credit: original vertical version by Scottish Government (tweaked by me to horizontal format)

It appears that the Scottish Government is moving ahead with its Online Identity Assurance programme. I like the ‘facts’ in their graphic above:

However, I still want assurance that my concerns in my blog post about the March ‘show and tell’ are handled. In short, I want to be sure that this work will benefit (at the very minimum, not become a barrier) to access to government services by those who need it the most.

People such as me (white, middle-class, UK origin, university educated, technophilic, etc) are likely to be able to to navigate digital doings pretty well. But what about those who don’t have the time, the technology and the understanding to do this?

So, just like SG says in its latest blog post, I’m looking forward to [the] next National Stakeholder Group meeting on Tuesday 19 June, where the project team will summarise what has happened since the group last met in February, before holding a discussion on next steps. In addition to members of the Stakeholder Group being invited, [SG] will again be making places available for anyone who wants to come along and participate, or simply observe. 

Some thoughts on e-voting

This post is inspired by my taking part in the Open Rights Group (Scotland)‘s e-voting round-table in February, and the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance ‘show and tell’ in March, and by a seminar by Professor Brian Detlor last week. (My notes from the ORG’s round-table should be available on the Open Government Network website. I’ve also posted them on this blog.) In this post, I assume that e-voting would be run on central servers, but votes would be cast via software running on personal phones, tablets and computers. Continue reading

Online identity assurance programme: Scottish Government ‘show & tell’ (28 March 2018) #identityassurance @digitalscots

This post is my digital record of the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance (OLA) ‘show and tell’. The day was very informative, and provided me the opportunity to catch up with friends in civil society circles. I’m especially interested because online identity is a natural precursor to online voting, another problematic area that greatly interests me.

The post starts with a recap of what was said at the event, then notes my input at the event. Next are my reactions to the event itself, followed by my thoughts on the whole OLA programme. In summary, while I think OLA is very worthwhile, and that the Scottish Government is trying to do it the right way, I have a lot of reservations about how useful it will be for those who most need government support. Continue reading

What has Bruce been up to (late March to early April 2018)

Last week

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If you are against Brexit, or are in favour of it but wish it to be on a sound legal footing, you may be interested in this petition. Its text is

Declare the 2016 referendum vote null and void due to foreign interference

It is clear now that foreign influence and inaccurate facts were highly influential on the electorate during the Brexit referendum and therefore the result should be declared as null and void.

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