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5th October 2021

Partner Blog: Delivering successful London elections with the Greater London Authority

CGI ensured the count for the London Mayoral and London Assembly elections was a success, processing approximately 7.9 million ballot papers over two days.

There were sunshine and showers on 6 May 2021 when over 2.5 million people from 32 London Boroughs and the City of London cast their votes in the local and mayoral elections. Behind the scenes, CGI teams were ready at three count centres across London to manage the electronic count of the votes in one of the most complex local election landscapes in the United Kingdom.

Back in 2019 the Greater London Authority (GLA) appointed CGI, supported by our partner Smartmatic, to manage every detail of the vote counting process, including setting up the three count centres, managing London Borough staff training and the highly secure vote counting arrangements.

Having already supported the successful delivery of the Scottish local elections in 2012 and 2017, we had proven project management expertise to navigate the complexity of the GLA elections. This also meant we were able to ensure a smooth transition when voting was delayed by 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Benefits

  • More accurate vote counting solution
  • Increased transparency and integrity
  • Reduced manual handling of ballots
  • Highly secure election data
  • Rigorous cyber security measures
  • Full paper audit trail
  • Rapid response to changing election requirement

With CGI, Smartmatic and partners we knew the count was in safe hands. The commitment of their teams meant the rapid shift to delivering a Covid-safe election was a real success.

Laying the foundations

Swift, accurate and secure vote counting is fundamental to polling day success. We worked closely with election software experts Smartmatic in the run up to the 2020 election to tailor the technology to the specific needs of the GLA. The e-counting solution goal was to deliver a more accurate and transparent result than could be achieved if ballots were counted manually on the day.

Collaborating closely with the GLA team, all the London Borough representatives who would be processing the results were provided with extensive training. The project was proceeding exactly according to plan when, in March 2020, it was announced that the elections due to take place in May would be postponed provisionally by a year due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19.

With a new timeframe, CGI worked to put plans in place to ensure the e-counting solution, and all the supporting elements, were ready to go as and when a new date was confirmed.

Responsive to change

When the new date in 2021 was confirmed, fundamental changes were needed to how the election vote count needed to be managed. To ensure a Covid-19 safe environment the event was extended from a one-day to a two-day count, social distancing measures needed to be established at the count centres and training moved online.

Working in partnership with Hamilton Rentals, the count centres at Alexandra Palace, Olympia and Excel were kitted out with the scanners, computers and technical infrastructure required to process the many thousands of in-person and postal votes expected.

Additional online training was delivered over a two month period for the 1,000 borough council employees who had already been trained in person prior to the elections being rescheduled.

From overseeing floor markings and one-way systems, to ensuring the installation of plexiglass screens and peripherals within the three venues, we managed every aspect of the rescheduled election count to ensure the democratic process could continue securely, efficiently and safely.

Watch the video here.

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