[E-voting] Postal voting in the UK
Dr J Pelan
J.Pelan at gatsby.ucl.ac.uk
Wed Oct 25 23:15:44 IST 2006
On Wed, 25 Oct 2006, Timothy Murphy wrote:
> In any case, in my view it would be a mistake for ICTE to start
> attacking postal votes, which are essential in many cases if people are
> not to be dis-enfranchized.
You have missed the point but I've changed the subject title and will try
to attempt to address the misconceptions raised.
0) We are talking about postal voting and remote e-voting in the UK which
is not a concern for ICTE per se, but it is useful to discuss here from
time to time as some of the campaign issues may overlap.
1) The original proposition was simply that technical knowledge was NOT
required to understand or explain the risks associated with remote
e-voting, precisely because some of the risks are identical to those
already present with postal voting. As some of these postal voting
risks have been realised and subsequently publicised in the media, the
awareness of them has been raised in the minds of much of the UK
public (or at least those that care).
2) Highlighting potential and real problems with postal voting (either
directly or via analogy with remote e-voting) is not 'attacking' it.
Seeking to reduce fraud and other discrepancies is a perfectly
reasonable stance and is in keeping with society's norms.
One should not be content to hope to detect fraud after the fact. Not
only can this not be guaranteed, it is costly and undermines the
electoral system. Safe-guards should be present from the outset for the
very same reason we lock our doors at night.
3) The key point you are forgetting is the notion of scale and risk. While
postal voting is inherently risky, the potential damage can be limited
by restricting its use to those that truly need it, like the rain
averse wheelchair users you cite.
In England, postal voting is now available to everyone and so the
potential for fraud, and the consequences of it, goes up by orders of
magnitude. Similarly, it is proposed that remote e-voting be made
available to all and so the risks are of a similar type *and* scale. It
is perfectly reasonable to wish to reduce these by, once again,
restoring the postal votes to those that genuinely need them.
So, in summary, please do not equate any criticism of postal voting with a
desire to disenfranchise anyone. That is quite the opposite of what is
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