Alongside the introduction of the increased thresholds as a pre-condition for lawful industrial action, the Trade Union Act 2016 required the government to commission an independent review of possible methods of electronic voting in strike ballots. At the moment, only postal voting is allowed. The Review is chaired by Sir Ken Knight, former Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser for England, and is looking at issues such as:
• electronic and physical security – risks of interception, hacking, fraud or irregular practices;
• the extent to which systems can be safeguarded to reduce risk of intimidation of union members and protect voters' anonymity; and
• security of existing balloting practices.
It also takes into account the Act's aim of ensuring strikes only happen as a result of a clear decision by those entitled to vote.
The Review has now asked for views on the appropriateness and ease with which e-balloting for industrial action could be introduced. The call for evidence notes that the government requires strong evidence that the standards of security and prevention of intimidation and fraud currently achieved by postal voting can be met. Particular points where evidence on e-balloting is required include:
• what technology has been used and how has it been evaluated?
• how much would e-balloting for industrial action increase turnout?
• how would secrecy compare with postal voting?
• what systems have been used to ensure that hacking, even if successful, would not allow the identity of a voter to be revealed?
• would it increase the scope for intimidation/undue influence?
The deadline for evidence is 10 May; the Review's final report will be issued by December 2017.