Recently a story came out about the sort of election rigging you would think would only occur in some dictatorship, perhaps a story to come out of some third world country, but never a constituency in England and perpetrated by the ruling party themselves.
Yet it never made much more than a squashed bug on the windscreen of the news vehicle as it was manoeuvred quickly forward by those no longer in power doctors of spin.
I’ve saved the link so you can see the story and related ones at the BBC.
Apparently a huge raft of voters had been threatened and given over their postal votes, some even unwillingly had theirs taken, and Labour helpers were sitting in a warehouse filling them out to suit their local candidate ready to send off. There they were, sitting in a warehouse, vote rigging. Isn’t that illegal? Isn’t that what the UN and our country included would be up in arms about in any other country, particularly an impoverished one? Calling for the powers of Democracy to oust the ruling party?
So it was interesting during the election to hear how quiet it all was, apart from a few stories today concerned that the number of postal votes made may bring rise to election rigging, and the extremely early story of lawyers being called in to look into rigging on postal votes in Aberdeen before the polls had even closed! Apart from those two stories there was nothing else.
I can tell you my own experiences in voting in this election, and of the antiquated method of voting, as well as the huge potential for vote rigging.
There are two voters in my household, one postal (voter that is) and one standard voter. Let’s first turn to the postal voter, which is myself.
This consists of placing a cross next to the candidate I wanted to win. Listed on the form are the candidates party, name and address of their house, not website, house. In fact there’s not so much as a mention of party websites, candidates website or even an email address. Tough luck if you might want to find out what they stand for at this stage, unless you go round to their front door or want to go Internet searching.
The next step is to sign a form with a signature, and then get put another signature along with an address underneath, this serves as the proof that the first signature was written.
Notice how I wrote that. These signatures could be anyones, and they could both be written by my own hand. The Government do not have a signature of mine for comparison against, nor are they going to be checking postal vote upon postal vote and check thesecond signature. What if they do? Will they write to the address given and ask if the signature is correct? Of course it is I would reply, in the same style as the second signature, it’s perfectly legitimate.
All that aside, how do I know if my vote has actually been cast? I have no idea.
Okay, so surely standard voting by visiting a polling station is harder to falsify? The other vote in my household was made during the evening, at our local polling station.
Other than having the voting slip in their hand, there wasn’t much more to it. They had to recite the name and address on the slip, make their vote and drop the paper in the appropriate box for their street address. Not so hard.
Hold up and let’s go back a moment. The voting booths used pencils. Yes that’s right, pencil. Now I’m no conspiracy theorist but come on is that secure? Is that method not screaming out to you that there’s a huge opportunity to rig that vote?
This morning I looked to the BBC Online Election 2005 site for the election results and saw the country map coloured for the wins for each party and I was amazed. Here, have a look at this blatantly borrowed copy from the BBC:
Edinburgh is pretty much Labour, in a country predominantly coloured Liberal Democrat. Remember this is the city that just rejected congestion charging, is soon to face a total ban on smoking in public places and has the worst roads in any capital city that I’ve seen since being in Morocco. Yet the majority aren’t blaming the party in power in the UK, Scotland and Edinburgh for that?
Let’s look at that map and the colours for a moment. If you’ll let me analyse this simply.
Scotland – Yellow – Liberal Democrats
Wales – Yellow\Green – Liberal Democrats \ Green Party
Is that easy to follow? I don’t think that my eyes are deceiving me when I look at that. To me it’s pretty obvious looking at that map that Labour should not be in power right now.
Sure you can speak about population, number of seats and what not, but can you look at that map and really understand the seat figures that brought them in? Just to remind you as the currently stand at the moment of posting:
Liberal Democrats: 62
Take those figures and look at that map once more. Is that right?
To summarise, I think this does show that our voting system is open to corruption, if it’s not actively going on right now that is, and that it’s just so arcane.
In an age where all my financial dealings are conducted on the Internet, why can’t my voting be? The reason, we are told, is that it’s not safe or secure. Comparing totally anonymous, unverifiable and pencil and paper voting does not sound to me more secure than the Internet where I purchase 90% of my goods and carry out all my financial transactions.
It’s about time that our system was changed. Not only to make it more easy and accessible to vote, but that it’s also made more representational of the actual voting by the public. Otherwise results like this will continue.