Online voting is long overdue…

I can’t vote today.

1, I’m housebound, and simply too ill, and in too much pain and, 2, I’m a powerchair user and it’s pissing down – wrestling with waterproofs is beyond me (see 1).

Time was when I’d have asked for a postal vote, but 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 postal vote itself, which has to be mailed a couple of weeks before the election, for which I usually have no information upon which to base a decision (well, OK, I’d probably vote Labour, I mostly do, but the lazy-arse candidates don’t know that).

If I could do that (which at the time I couldn’t), then I could go and vote normally. Mind you, they keep moving the polling station further away. It used to be in the next street, now it’s half a mile away and, when you’re me, that matters more than you might think.

So anyway, sod it, I’m having a bloody awful day and I’m not even dressed.

But forget postal votes – where the hell is online voting?

I mean, there’s no real difficulty in making an online voting system secure. 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 (I, for example, have neither – I don’t travel and I surrendered my licence years ago when I became too ill to drive safely).

Most people seem unaware of their National Health number, unless they’re admitted to hospital (it’s on the wristband and on appointment letters), but it’s there to be used.

So, we all have two unique identifiers. Add one or maybe two passwords, or phrases, that we create – or a raft of 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 even more obscure, calendar. Good luck guessing that, considering how date-heavy LOTR is, never mind figuring out the right appendix and the correct calendars.

I’d do something similar for online voting if I ever get the chance. Book titles, plucked from the distant past (not current reading, which you might mention online), are also good sources of passwords.

Why do I need online voting? Simple – in front of my computer is where I spend most of my life. Sad – but true – and I know many others do exactly the same. I mostly don’t use my postal vote since, as I said, the system requires me to go to the post box on two separate occasions, these days mostly not possible.

I wonder just how many disabled people are disenfranchised in this way? 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 at all for not having online voting.

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6 thoughts on “Online voting is long overdue…

  1. Hear! Hear! In this borough (Wandsworth – I don’t know about others) we can join the Electoral Register online – the form which Council Officials put through each door each has two unique series of numbers and characters which, together, form the password – so, if they have the wit and wisdom to manage that system, they should be able to handle online voting by ward, Parliamentary Constituency, etc., I agree that the postal-voting procedure involves too much fart-assing-around, especially when you can’t tell from one day to the next if you’ll be able to get to the pillar-box – and proxy-voting is no answer for those of us who have no-one we can trust, absolutely, to use our proxy the way we’d want, even if we were willing to share that intention with someone else.

    Today, thankfully, I’m just about up to scooting along to the very-nearby Polling Station – but that will be my limit. Water-proofs will go on over jim-jams, making me just-about presentable! All the best to you.

    • even if we were willing to share that intention with someone else.

      But you do – we all do. In potentia, at least.

      When you get your ballot paper it gets stamped with a number. That same number is also stamped next to your name on the copy electoral register held in the polling station – they do it in front of you, there’s no intent to decieve. Anyone who cares to can take a completed ballot paper, check it against the roll and find out how any individual voted. It’s not easy – the numbers on the register are randomly distributed – but it is doable and has been that way all my adult life.

      These days, of course, the copy register could be scanned into a computer and the search completed in seconds – minutes at most. Does that happen? I’d say so – if something can be done, someone, somewhere, will do it.

      The idea that our vote is actually secret is a fallacy.

      • I had completely forgotten that! Yep, good point. Still not simple to drill down into exactly who voted which way, mind, but not guaranteed as secret-for-all-time or completely secure.

        • Not simple, as I said, but quite definitely doable. And in these days of computerised-everything it’ll be much easier, and I have little doubt that it is being done, probably by this most corrupt of governments and, after yesterday, probably right now!

  2. Everything you say is correct no doubting that. And if the politicians wanted votes so damn badly they would work something out. Over here in new zealand they bend over backwards to get your vote. Maybe this little country could teach the bigger ones a thing or two.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. i did rely on my postal vote getting there ok./ as i have 3 dog walkers that come over 4 days in the week,plus my daughter comes, or if i can catch the postie (my dog is very good at letting me know hes in the cul de sac but obviously he doesnt call at mine everyday.) but if i CAN catch him, hes very good at posting letters for me.so i have enough people that call that are willing to post things for me. but my son couldn’t go to vote today.like you Ron, he was in too much pain after the (failed) day out yesterday which involved far too much walking for both of us. nearly killed me at the time as my breathing got really bad, and he will be in pain for another couple of days at least (all because the website covering where we went, failed to tell us that the nearest bus stop was around half a mile away and uphill about half of that distance.(another story that however). an online vote would have been so much easier for my son.(and me to a lesser degree..i can only hope my vote got to where it should go)

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