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.