Information Technology website The Register reports that former Barnet Chief Executive Leo Boland, pictured right, is heading for a clash with the Electoral Commission over e-counting. Boland, installed in January as Boris Johnson’s £205,000 a year Chief Executive, has personally decided to install electronic counting machines for the next Greater London Authority (GLA) elections in 2012.
Boland has completely ignored expert concerns about electoral fraud, and his own staff have estimated that the cost of an electronic count will be £1.5 million higher than a manual count.
The Electoral Commission, who will report their findings next week are reportedly “absolutely livid” at Boland’s peremptory action. Only two companies are being considered for the lucrative contract, both of whom have previously been involved in election controversies.
According to The Register:
Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group (ORG), which acted as an official observer organisation at the London e-count last year, said Boland's decision suggested he didn't understand the problems associated with e-counting.
He said: “Given the desire to charge ahead without proper analysis of its own Cost Benefit Analysis, and analysis of its suppliers, ORG is not confident that the GLA properly understands the risks it is taking.
“Putting aside the risks from technical errors, failures or hacks, the GLA have completely failed to make the case that spending £1.5m more on the 2012 election is the best way to spend London taxpayers' money.”
Killock added that ORG believes the GLA's cost versus benefit analysis had been biased in favour of e-counting, and had probably underestimated the extra expense.
None of this will come as any surprise to Barnet residents who witnessed first hand the unelected and unaccountable Boland’s contempt for the democratic process when he authorised the purchase of five flat screen Sony televisions for himself, Emer Coleman and three other Barnet officers at a cost to taxpayers of £14,000 (as part of a £90,000 contract for audio visual equipment) without bothering to tell councillors how the money was being spent.
Earlier this year, Boland was responsible for the cack-handed distribution of the GLA’s tickets to the annual Buckingham Palace garden party. Disgraced BNP Assembly Member Richard Barnbrook was inexplicably given an invitation to this prestigious event, thereby putting the Queen in a potentially embarrassing position.
At a time when the public are crying out for an end to waste, it is nothing short of scandalous that a Conservative Administration is prepared to spend £1.5 million of taxpayers’ money simply so that the count can be conducted a little bit quicker. If Boris wishes to retain a shred of credibility, he must sack Boland immediately.