CGI to deliver vote counting e-solution for 2020 London elections

24 December 2018 4 min. read

Global IT and business consulting services firm CGI has been awarded a new contract by the Greater London Authority to deliver end-to-end services, software and technical infrastructure for the electronic counting of votes in the 2020 London elections. Having previously delivered e-counting programmes in Scotland, CGI’s proven approach will facilitate the delivery of an accurate and transparent vote count.

The London Mayoral Election to be held on the 7th of May 2020 will see incumbent Mayor, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, fight to hold his position, having first been elected in 2016 with 44.2% of the vote in the first round. It is expected to be one of the last major tests of political opinion before the anticipated General Election of 2022, and as such, it has been judged as the perfect proving ground for new digital vote counting technology.

This has seen IT and business consulting firm CGI contracted to provide an electronic solution – developed in partnership with London-based elections technology company Smartmatic – for the accurate counting of voter marks on ballot papers and declaration of results for three elections taking place in May 2020: the Mayor of London, 14 Constituency Assembly Members, and 11 London-wide Assembly Members. The scheme will pilot with the counting of postal and in-person votes in the Alexandra Palace, Excel and Olympia districts of London.

The e-counting solution will assist with ballot papers being  scanned and processed quickly and accurately, with full auditability of results. In support of the project roll-out, CGI will also provide outreach and consultancy to key minority voting groups, offering full transparency around the vote counting process to help encourage voter participation.

CGI to deliver vote counting e-solution for 2020 London elections

Donna Kelly, Vice President, South Business Unit at CGI UK, explained, “The 2020 elections will still utilise traditional paper-based voting. CGI, partnering with Smartmatic, will provide an electronic solution for the accurate counting of marks which were registered by voters on ballot papers. CGI’s approach will facilitate the delivery of an accurate and transparent vote count.”

CGI was previously awarded a £6.5 million contract to deliver an e-counting solution for the Scottish Government to use in council elections. Following on from that project, CGI will continue to work with Rathmhor – a coaching, training and consultancy business – whose team of specialist facilitators designed and delivered the user training for the programme in Scotland in 2017. Leading provider Hamilton Rentals will meanwhile supply hardware and AV rental, while its engineers will build count centres and deploy the solution at the count venues.

Having rolled out a smart system at the Scottish Local Government elections is one thing, but London’s position as a major financial and political hub surely makes these elections more of a target for hackers or cyber criminals. Thus, while the voting is still carried out on a paper-based system and only the tallying is electronic, security of the processes and systems supporting the e-counting is still extremely important.

When asked what steps were being taken to ensure the integrity of the process, Kelly responded, “We take a holistic approach... It is not only about the technology itself, but also about making sure it is securely configured and rigorously tested from a security perspective before voting, that the correct procedures are followed during the event and that analysis is undertaken to ensure there are no indications of any issues during the vote counting. This approach looks to minimise risks associated with adversaries attempting to exploit system vulnerabilities to gain access to the systems and manipulate the counting undetected.”

To this end, CGI has a well-grounded reputation for delivering cyber security and assured governance to the public sector. Drawing on its partners’ combined elections experience and expertise, the company  will collaborate closely with the GLA and London Boroughs to undertake planning, testing and training ahead of the crunch election period.

Commenting on the choice of CGI for the contract, Mary Harpley, Greater London Returning Officer at the Greater London Authority said, “I would like to congratulate CGI on their success in being selected to deliver electronic counting for the next Mayoral and Assembly elections in 2020. Having worked closely with Transport for London and representatives from the London Boroughs to ensure a robust and transparent selection process, the GLA team is looking forward to working with CGI, Smartmatic and partners to deliver an effective and accurate e-count.”

Related: The HALO Scotland partners CGI for Kilmarnock regeneration.