A letter has gone out today from Anthony Meyer, the Greater London Returning Officer, providing further details of the London election results. In it he admits that the Mayor result as declared at the time was inaccurate, as not all the valid votes were included in it:
The Mayoral 1st and 2nd preference figures for two ballot boxes from Merton and Wandsworth did not transmit successfully to City Hall for aggregation into the London-wide Mayoral declaration. Only the data on rejected ballot papers were received.
In total, 746 votes for Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson were therefore missed out from the final figures. Of course, this doesn’t cast any doubt on Boris Johnson’s victory, but it does show – once again – how fragile electronic counting systems are in the UK and how adequate cross-checks to ensure that no data goes astray are frequently missing from the system.
Credit is due to the London Elects team for having made public their discovery of the error, but we should perhaps all be breathing a sigh of relief that the votes from only two ballot boxes went missing, and in an election that didn’t end on a knife-edge. Imagine the situation we would be in if either of these weren’t the case.