New counting firm emerges amid AV row

A SECOND vote-counting machine boss, whose firm stands to gain from a switch to the Alternative Vote, has extolled the virtues of scrapping Britain’s first past the post electoral system.

Anne Marie-Slavin, chief executive of Opt2Vote, a vote-counting firm that has a contract for all of Scotland’s council and by-elections, said: “The introduction of electronic counting, and possibly AV for parliamentary elections, as part of the government’s overall modernisation programme should be encouraged.”

Her backing comes just days after Nick Clegg accused his coalition allies of lying about electronic counting. He said claims that the introduction of AV would require expensive automated machines was “lies, misinformation and deceit”.

Yet his broadside, seen as an attack on Prime Minister David Cameron, was questioned by detractors.

“This shows that the consensus among those who run elections is that the introduction of AV will mean councils have to purchase expensive vote counting machines,” a spokesperson for the No to AV campaign said.

“Here is a company that runs elections urging a yes vote for the potential commercial interests AV would bring.”

It had already emerged that the Electoral Reform Society, a major backer of the “Yes to AV” campaign, believed it could gain financially under AV.

Several prominent City figures have pledged thousands of pounds to the “No” campaign in the run up to the 5 May referendum.

The campaign’s chairman, founder of derivatives dealer CMC Markets Peter Cruddas, has made a £400,000 donation, whilst Lord Sainsbury has donated £100,000.

The former head of FTSE100 firm Man Group, Lord Fink, and co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown Peter Hargreaves, also pledged significant sums.