[E-voting] E-voting machines to be used in UK

Louise Ferguson louise.ferguson at gmail.com
Wed Oct 25 14:54:11 IST 2006

On 25/10/06, Dr J Pelan <J.Pelan at gatsby.ucl.ac.uk> wrote:
> If a 'hack' phones up ORG and asks for an opinion on e-voting what are
> they going to be told ? Who are they going to be directed to ?

They'd be directed to individuals who know something about the issue.
Who would tell them the reasons why the range of e-voting options currently
live in the UK are not a particularly good idea; why some options are worse
than others; what the experience has been in other jurisdictions; and what
the holes are in the UK government argument. In other words, provide a
counterweight to the government line and the vendor line.
And added to that there'd be some input in press approach terms, to ensure
some snappy quotes.

There are
> no position statements on your WWW site and it isn't clear if you have any
> opinions of your own in any subject (certainly not without drilling down)
> and even if you did - are these the opinions of one/some/all of your
> members?  Much like traditional Labour supporters are now, I wouldn't want
> to cough up a membership fee and then be surprised by a volte face on a
> core issue, like VVAT in this case.

Well I'm sure you'd get cast iron guarantees somewhere in the world, but I
don't know of any organisations that provide/provided them. Perhaps the
Communist Party in North Korea? ;-)

But seriously, in high-level general terms, policy is guided by the Advisory
Council (AC), who help to inform the organisation on particular policy
areas, help us decide on what policy areas to focus at any given time, and
so on (there are around 12 areas on the table at the moment I believe). We
actually share one AC member with Liberty, and there's also some overlap
with FIPR AC and Trustees (while Shami of Liberty is a FIPR AC member, so
you could argue this is all very incestuous).
"Events, dear boy, events" though are always going to be changing the
panorama - and so, to last week's developments on e-voting.

> It's a tough battle but I believe the strength of the ICTE has been, aside
> from the dedication of a few highly commendable people (not forgetting Joe
> McCarthy), that it is single-issue, non-partisan politically and devoid of
> egos, money and vested interests - other than a desire for transparent,
> accountable elections. It has also succeeded, thus far, because it got
> mainstream politicians to take notice.

I'm not sure what you're argument is. First, you supported traditional UK
civil liberties organisations (Liberty et al) as being the best main focus
of efforts (though Liberty, and the rest, have never shown any interest in
the issue), and argued that niche digital rights players are fragmented and
coming at the problem from the wrong angle (it's not a tech issue). Now you
seem to be arguing from the opposite viewpoint. I commend what ICTE has done
and hope it will do more. But there is no ICTE in the UK.

I'm in favour of anything that works. I don't believe there is any *right*

And I'm not sure that lack of money is a good thing. The vast majority of
NFP campaigns and organiations fail owing to lack of resources, in the UK at
least. Lots of people may think certain things, but it takes *somebody* to
spend *some time* over a significant period to get something done, and
unless they are independently wealthy, or have jobs that provide them with
endless free daytime hours, this can be a problem in the longer term. People
want weekends, evenings...A life. That's why activity by volunteers
eventually, and almost always, peters out (people graduate, or get married,
or get too old to stay up all night, or just get plain tired). In the world
of NFPs, the biggest response to anything is "I don't have any - more -
time". Money can buy that time (and usually at a low wage compared to the
private sector).

>From my personal perspective, as a starting position in the UK it would
> help if all the relevant groups, including ORG, nailed their flag to the
> mast so everyone can see where they stand.

We've had someone working on this since last Wednesday ;-).
Don't worry, he's a volunteer (as am I).

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