THE borough council's election results have been called into question in a damning report.

The Open Rights Group queried the results after computer problems plagued Swindon's e-voting trial.

But the council has insisted the outcome of the May 3 elections was accurate.

Counting officers had to revert to old-fashioned pen and paper when wireless connections failed at polling stations in Covingham and Lawn.

Laptops at other polling stations in Swindon were frequently out of order throughout the day while technicians rushed to restore them.

IT specialists from the Open Rights Group independently monitored how the electronic votes were processed on May 3.

Jason Kitcat, e-voting co-ordinator at the Open Rights Group, said: "The main problem at Swindon was the laptops in the polling stations.

"Those laptops were often not working in virtually every polling station."

Mr Kitcat, who observed the polling stations throughout the day, witnessed frantic attempts to insert multiple CDs to boot up unresponsive laptops.

The computers had two functions - to allow votes to be cast and to check that people had not already voted.

Mr Kitcat believes the out-of-order laptops meant eligibility could not be checked - potentially allowing people to vote twice.

But deputy returning officer Alan Winchcombe strongly denied there was any double voting.

"The main problem was wireless connectivity, but people could still vote as we had paper ballots on hand at the polling station," Mr Winchombe said: "We only lost five per cent of voting time.

"We made sure no-one could vote twice as we compared the paper register with the electronic votes on the day."

The report also criticised the lax security at the Oasis saying computers were left unguarded.

IT experts said they wandered in without being challenged during the day and could have easily tampered with the laptops.

Mr Winchcombe refused to comment on the accusation.

The Open Rights Group also claimed there was a lack of transparency and openness about the process - contravening the democratic process.

The first seat winner was announced at 2am, two hours later than hoped.

Mr Winchcombe said a lack of counting staff caused the severe delay.

"We reduced the number of manual counting staff by about 50 people as we expected 40 per cent of the electorate to vote electronically, but only 24 per cent did."

The council is reviewing the e-voting pilot and feedback from voters. The Electoral Commission will publish the findings on August 3.