Open Rights Groups - the first two years

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One Response to “Open Rights Groups - the first two years”

  1. John Dallman says:

    I’ve just realised there’s a further reason to oppose e-voting in the UK. And it’s quite serious.

    UK elections are not, technically, a completely secret ballot. When you turn up to vote, the polling staff verify that you’re claiming to be someone on the electoral register. Most people present the “remember to vote” card they’re sent, which carries your “poll number”, a membership number in the electoral register. If you don’t do that, they ask for your name and address and verify that there’s someone matchuing that on the hardcopy electoral register they have to hand. With you verified – and your poll number to hand – they tear a numbered ballot slip out of the book they come in, and note your poll number ont he counterfoil. You then fill in the slip, and drop it in the ballot box.

    This does mean that it’s possible to go backwards from votes to identities. For each vote of interest, you read the ballot slip number off the slip, turn up that page in the book of ballot slip counterfoils and read off the voter’s poll number, then look that up in the computer version of the electoral register. This is a lot of work, if you want to identify any significant number of votes, so it isn’t considered a problem with the paper system. The numbering of everything is a fairly decent anti-fraud measure. It is rumoured that during the Cold War the “security services” used the system to identify people who voted Communist, but I don’t know the truth of that.

    However, if all the data is computerised, it become trivially easy to identify how everyone voted. And that has lots of potential for straightforward electoral corruption. If local governments, who run the ballots, can identify exactly who is supporting them and who isn’t, all sorts of things become easy for them to do. For a historical example of UK local government using its power to manipulate voting, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homes_for_votes#Building_Stable_Communities.

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