Every year when I complete my electoral registration I ask for a postal vote. This involves me, if I’m well enough, going out to post back a form confirming that yes, I did mean, when I asked for a postal vote, that I actually wanted one.
Then there’s the vote itself, which has to be posted a couple of weeks before the election (I think, and also if I’m well enough**), an election for which I usually have no information upon which to base a decision (well, OK, I’d vote Labour, always have, but the lazy-arse candidates don’t know that).
**Which can never be guaranteed – at the time of writing I haven’t been out for over 2 months.
Then, today, it’s the Police and Crime Commissioner vote. Ignoring the tautology (the crime bit, in police commissioner, surely goes without saying), or is this a new feature, unique to the UK, in which the buggers actually commission crimes? Wouldn’t surprise me.
So where’s my postal vote for that? Haven’t got one. I do have an enormous polling card, several times the size of the normal ones (why?), which assures me that my polling station might be accessible. Might? WTF is that about? And what am I supposed to do if it’s not?
And it goes without saying that I have not the smallest nugget of information from any of the candidates.
So anyway, sod it, I’m having a bad day and I’m not even dressed.
But no postal vote – that’s a bugger.
The thing is, I always complete my electoral registration online. This year, though, the website no longer existed – just a “This domain name might be for sale” message, so I had to do it by phone, and the automated system just needed me to confirm that nothing had changed since last year. That, however, clearly didn’t encompass my postal vote which, for this year at least, is lost.
Of course, these problems, and others, could be eliminated by the introduction of online voting – as long as some dumb bugger doesn’t wreck the website!
I mean, there’s no real difficulty in making an online voting system secure, as banks have proved. Every person, for example, has two numbers which uniquely identify them – their National Insurance number and their National Health number. OK, many have more, but everybody has those two while not everybody has a driving licence or passport.
Most people seem unaware of the NH number, unless they’re admitted to hospital (it’s on the wristband and on OPD appointment letters), but it’s there to be used.
So, we have two unique identifiers. Add one or maybe two passwords, or phrases, that we create – or half a dozen, randomly selected by computer, as happens in banking** – and surely that should be enough security? A damned sight more secure than postal voting which, in the past, has been massively abused.
** For banking I use, among much else, a name from my family, the existence of which is known only to me as I’m the only living person that knows it, and a date plucked at random from The Lord of the Rings. plus appendices, converted to a different, and obscure, calendar. Good luck guessing that, considering how date-heavy LOTR is, never mind figuring out the right calendar. I’d do something similar for online voting if I ever get the chance!
Why do I need online voting? Simple – in front of my computer is where I spend most of my life. Sad – but true. I mostly don’t use my postal vote, as I said, as the system requires me to go to the post box on two separate occasions, these days mostly not possible.
I wonder how many disabled people are disenfranchised in this way? (Note for journalists – this is all disenfranchised means – being deprived of the vote – it does not describe rioting and looting youths.)
I know we can nominate a proxy, but that just doesn’t appeal as we have absolutely no control over which way our proxy will vote, or even if they’ll remember, which leaves online voting and, try though I might, I simply cannot see any viable reason why, if the will was there, it couldn’t be implemented, and implemented quickly. After all, it’s not as if we aren’t all already in one government database or another.
And hey, if they can do it for the census, and Universal Credit** claims, then there really is no excuse for not having online voting.
**The UC system seems set to crash in flames, probably more the fault of the technologically-illiterate morons Freud and IDS than anything else, yet IDS, in his usual deranged way, refuses to see the problems and delay its launch, which is, literally and metaphorically, madness.