Leeds City Council is to overhaul its electoral management systems ahead of May’s all-out local elections.
Urgent work has been under way to recruit a brand new company with updated software as bosses admit the current system is out of date and inadequate.
Furthermore, the current supplier has been out of contract for seven years and bosses admit it is “vital that this is corrected at the earliest possible opportunity”.
Electronic electoral systems are considered crucial to the way modern elections are run, and can be used to do everything from automatically generating candidates’ nominations, to voter registration and ballot design.
A new report just approved by Leeds City Council’s head of elections, licensing and registration, says: “There is a recognised need to ensure the service has an electoral management software system in place in sufficient time for the planning and arrangement of the local elections in May 2018.
“The service has experienced issues with the current system’s functionality since the introduction of individual electoral registration in June 2014.”
The report notes that the service currently uses “workarounds” because of “gaps in the functionality of the current software”, and that the software relating to the vote count itself has “little functionality and the majority of the work has to be completed manually”.
The report adds that the current electoral management software contract expired in 2010 but the system “no longer meets the requirements of Electoral Services”. The new system and software will “provide the best possible functionality” for helping election staff to do their job, it adds.
“Given the close proximity to the local elections in May 2018, and the limited opportunity to migrate in a quieter period which would not affect the day to day business of the service, it is hoped to migrate in January 2018,” the report adds.
Leeds has a total electorate size of more than 500,000 people.