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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-14686: Patrick Harvie (Glasgow)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 16 February 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what correspondence (a) ministers and (b) officials have had with (i) Smartmatic, (ii) Scytle and (iii) any other suppliers of electronic or online voting systems.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 13 March 2018

The Scottish Government's Digital Strategy includes a commitment to explore and trial the potential of electronic voting solutions. This follows on from the successful electronic counting of votes in Scotland's local government elections, most recently those held in May 2017.

In addition, our current consultation on Electoral Reform - which is open until‎ 29 March 2018 - invites responses on a range of issues including seeking views on electronic machine voting and online voting.

In the context of this work, to inform our understanding of the electronic voting landscape, in recent months Elections Team officials have had engagement with a wide range of informed stakeholders. Among these stakeholders were several commercial suppliers of electronic voting machines and online voting technology, including Smartmatic and Scytl. This engagement has included both meetings and correspondence with Elections Team officials but not with Scottish Ministers.

I gave the opening address at an event organised jointly by the Scottish Government and Edinburgh University School of Informatics, 'Scotland's Democratic Future: Exploring Electronic Voting'. In addition to electoral practitioners, academics and others, this event was attended by the following e-voting suppliers: UK Engage; Smartmatic; Scytl; Idox; Modern Democracy; and CGI. Details at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/informatics/news-events/seminars/scotland-democratic-future-electronic-voting

It should be noted that, in early 2015, during the procurement exercise to contract a supplier to deliver the e-counting of the 2017 local government elections, there was some engagement with both Scytl and Smartmatic, though this did not include any discussion of electronic voting solutions. Neither of these suppliers submitted a bid for the e-counting contract.