Monday, March 15, 2010

A higher potential for abuse

The polling system has always had the potential for abuse "vote early vote often" is one of the oft humorous maxims used to describe the various ways that people and pressure groups have used to abuse the electoral system in this country and others in the past. However with falling voter numbers, political parties have looked to other methods than getting people to simply turn up at a polling station, postal voting was always allowable for the sick and elderly as well as those who had recently moved away from their constituency, though a massive can of worms was opened up by Labours tampering with the ease by which it could be done. It's suspected and their have been prosecutions that a massive amount of vote farming goes on in some communities where one person uses the votes of their families to vote en-mass for a particular candidate without the individuals even seeing their voting cards.

Yet I suspect that this will pale into insignificance when this little stunner finally gets the go ahead.


Online voting would reform Victorian electoral system, watchdog says

Voters should be allowed to select their MP online as part of moves to update Britain’s 19th century electoral system, under recommendations from the election watchdog. 

People should also be able to vote at polling stations throughout the weekend, according to Jenny Watson, the chair of the Electoral Commission.
She also warned that the election night drama of counts around the clock to determine the winner by morning “might not be workable” because postal voting had to be rigorously checked, which is time-consuming.
Watson, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, said the current system was based on Victorian ideas about the way people lived.
She said: “This is the 21st century, we all have completely different understanding of technology, the way we live our lives, people move away to university, for work.
“People live with people they are not related to. We cannot go on with a system that assumes we all stay in the same local areas, live with an extended family and are able to walk around the corner and be known by the polling agent to vote.
“We want to have a debate that says if we wanted to do democracy differently, in a modern way, while keeping local links, how would be do it?”
She added that the system was designed at a time when at most 5 million people voted but is now stretched to cater for 44 million.
The results of this year’s general election could be more unpredictable than usual, she said, because reforms now allow people to join the voter register up to 11 days before an election could boost turnout.
Can you see the potential problems here of say the political party in charge getting the system hacked to change a few votes in a few key constituencies? Or hackers deleting the system or altering it to suit certain vocal or extreme lobbying groups and their candidates? How about the households with 1 pc and several voters? At least at a polling station there's an outside chance of someone spotting a double or multiple voter, not as if you can ask for all your communities voting slips and certainly not collect them as they're delivered by post as has been done by a few local constituencies.

The three main parties today refused to stop interfering in postal vote applications, defying advice from returning officers and the Electoral Commission.
Evidence has emerged that Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are "farming" postal vote applications - asking people to return their forms to campaign offices rather than the official authorities.
It's simple enough, the political parties can and will attempt to interfere in voting, the more out of sight it is, the more they are likely to try, all have money, all have talented people all have the desire to gain power.The system we had might have been Victorian, but it was far more difficult to defraud, far more difficult to hack, easier to guard and merely required time to count.

Perhaps we should be looking more at ways to get people off their bums and into polling stations rather than make it easy for them not to turn up at all and have their votes "misappropriated" Voting should be made a privilege as well as a right and politicians as well as political parties should look to revising the entire electoral system to make it relevant to all rather than the various special interest groups and lobbying firms.
Compulsory voting might help, provided that an option of "None of the above" is on the voting slip.
Reform the system rather than make it easy/more liable to fiddle is what's needed to be done, not another means to corrupt the poll.

4 annotations:

James Higham said...

Online voting is the beginning of the end for Westminster and good thing too.

English Pensioner said...

If people can't be bothered to visit the polling station they shouldn't get a vote! Such laziness merely demonstrates their total lack of any real interest. We need to return to the old system where you had to justify having a postal vote.

Anonymous said...

It certainly does go on, I received such a missive from a prospective Labour candidate. Offering to "save me the trouble" of applying myself, they would do it for me if I just returned the completed form to them. Given that I would sooner have Robert Mugabe look after my savings and Gary Glitter look after my children than let the Labour party anywhere near me, I declined. The procedure, apparently, does not break electoral law but stinks to high heaven and what sort of message does it send? "We know better than you what is good for you and how to vote so be a good little prole and let us do your thinking for you".
Perhaps Zanu Arbeit are modelling a "low turnout" scenario for the election?

Maturecheese said...

Compulsory voting, not giving voting rights to any Tom Dick or Mohammed that sets foot in this country, and voting at polling stations only. To me this would make sense but no political party has ever changed anything out of common sense or the good of the country and its citizens, only out of self interest.