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Gateshead to host prototype e-voting trial

Tablet to be used in trial

A trial of a new system that could completely revolutionise elections is to be carried out in Gateshead this year.

A prototype e-voting system, in which the traditional ballot paper is replaced with modern touch screens, is to be tested at one of Gateshead's polling stations on Election Day - but people won't actually use it to vote.

Instead, voters will cast their votes in the normal way before being invited to try out the touch-screen system, which will also have dummy names to avoid confusion. Researchers will then ask people what they think of it.

e-voting trial prof feng
Above: Professor Feng Hao, who is trialling the prototype voting system
The trial is being carried out by Dr Feng Hao, Professor of Security Engineering at the Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick. Dr Hao asked Gateshead Council to help with user testing of his prototype touch screen-based system as part of its development.

Professor Feng Hao says:

"After 6 years of research it's thrilling to see verifiable e-voting in polling stations being trialled in Gateshead.

"Hopefully we will provide useful case studies to the voting law here in the UK, which is basically unchanged from over a hundred years ago and has not accounted the many developments of modern digital technologies."

If developed, an electronic voting system could revolutionise the elections process, perhaps offering the capability of providing live reports on voter behaviour throughout Election Day, and it could even do away with the need for an election count where each ballot paper is individually and carefully checked by a poll clerk.

The trial is planned to take place outside of the Lamesley Room at Gateshead Civic Centre close to the entrance of the polling station. It's hoped that people coming to vote, as well as visitors to the Civic Centre restaurant, will volunteer to try the new system and provide useful feedback to Dr Hao.

Dr Feng's research is supported by the European Research Council.

Tablet to be used in trial
01 May 2019

A trial of a new system that could completely revolutionise elections is to be carried out in Gateshead this year.

A prototype e-voting system, in which the traditional ballot paper is replaced with modern touch screens, is to be tested at one of Gateshead's polling stations on Election Day - but people won't actually use it to vote.

Instead, voters will cast their votes in the normal way before being invited to try out the touch-screen system, which will also have dummy names to avoid confusion. Researchers will then ask people what they think of it.

e-voting trial prof feng
Above: Professor Feng Hao, who is trialling the prototype voting system
The trial is being carried out by Dr Feng Hao, Professor of Security Engineering at the Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick. Dr Hao asked Gateshead Council to help with user testing of his prototype touch screen-based system as part of its development.

Professor Feng Hao says:

"After 6 years of research it's thrilling to see verifiable e-voting in polling stations being trialled in Gateshead.

"Hopefully we will provide useful case studies to the voting law here in the UK, which is basically unchanged from over a hundred years ago and has not accounted the many developments of modern digital technologies."

If developed, an electronic voting system could revolutionise the elections process, perhaps offering the capability of providing live reports on voter behaviour throughout Election Day, and it could even do away with the need for an election count where each ballot paper is individually and carefully checked by a poll clerk.

The trial is planned to take place outside of the Lamesley Room at Gateshead Civic Centre close to the entrance of the polling station. It's hoped that people coming to vote, as well as visitors to the Civic Centre restaurant, will volunteer to try the new system and provide useful feedback to Dr Hao.

Dr Feng's research is supported by the European Research Council.

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