Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How not to run an election system

The Council of Europe is criticising the UK's electoral system as open to fraud. It's an appalling indictment of a modern democracy, but then when I read the specifics, it seems the problem is that the UK just isn't that modern in its electoral processes. Rather than having individual registration like New Zealand does, the UK handles electoral enrolment on a household level. Apparently, once a year they send someone round, and the "head of household" (itself a fairly archaic concept) tells them who lives there. The potential for the creation of bogus enrolments is obvious, and compounded by the limited ability of electoral officials to conduct checks. Throw in a recent move to push postal and proxy voting to boost enrolments, and the entire system is looking highly vulnerable. It needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st (or even 20th) century, before these flaws are exploited.