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Oct 13, 2003

First for DRS in the Middle East

On 4th October 2003, several months of intensive project planning culminated in the successful use of DRS e-counting technology in the national elections for the “Majlis Ash’shura”, the Consultative Council for the Sultanate of Oman.

This was the first time DRS had been involved in an election in the Middle East. The election was of great historic significance for Oman as it was the first time that all citizens over the age of 21 were eligible to vote.

The project was highly complex and DRS was required to design and print 59 different types of ballot papers in Arabic script containing both the names and a full colour photograph of each candidate. Each ballot paper carried a unique and secure barcode. In total, DRS produced just under half a million ballot papers for the project and provided 59 DRS e-counting scanners; one for each Wilayat (a local Omani administrative district). DRS delivered all equipment and ballot papers ahead of schedule to Bahwan IT, the DRS local distributor, for distribution. In addition, DRS also provided a highly skilled team of software and hardware engineers from its Milton Keynes offices to assist in the smooth running of the election.

The huge distances across Oman meant that the only practical way to count the votes was to count them locally in each Wilayat and DRS was able to use its vast experience of elections to supply the appropriate e-counting scanner from its product range for each count location. For the Wilayats with low numbers of voters, DRS handfed scanners were used, medium quantities were counted by automatic scanners, and three Wilayats used a number of sophisticated high-speed scanners due to the large-volumes of ballot papers to count.

On polling day, turnout was excellent and DRS helped to deliver the first results in under two hours. The Deputy Chairman of the elections committee, Sheikh Said bin Mohammed Al Braiki said “…the use of the computer in the voting process and vote counting had greatly helped in speeding up the election processes.”

DRS has extensive experience in handling complex election projects across the world and throughout the UK. Examples include elections in Hong Kong, Norway and Bosnia & Herzegovina as well as in the UK in Westminster, Rugby, Shrewsbury & Atcham, Co. Durham and Greater London. DRS has recently been awarded the contract to provide its e-counting solutions for the 2004 London Mayor and Assembly elections, the biggest election of its kind in the UK.