November 9, 2012

After the US Presidential election, which has occurred following some dreadful weather that side of the Atlantic, the hoary topic of doing something techie to make voting and counting easier has arisen again. The good old MIT Technology Review has published a piece by David Talbot entitled “Why You Can’t Vote Online – Fundamental security problems aren’t solved, computing experts warn“, where the comments make equally good reading as the article itself. Closely following this was the news in The Register that given the weather the State of New Jersey’s attempt to make life better by instituting a ‘vote by email’ route had collapsed when inboxes filled, and votes were directed to personal email accounts.

In the UK we are going to the polls shortly to elect Police & Crime Commissioners and although the weather will be better, we hope, than the north-eastern coast of the USA, getting some people to the polling station will be very hard. Even if a workable technical solution is produced we still have the lack of quality broadband throughout the UK to deliver it over. Estonia, one of the places where e-voting appears to work has both broadband and identity cards, so two of the difficulties are surmounted already. In the UK and the USA confirming ones identity can be a regular difficulty as has been already stated on this blog.

The trouble with both the UK and the USA is that we have hoary old ‘democratic’ systems that were developed when populations were smaller and less people had representation. There are a lot of wrinkles to be ironed out in the system, before we even bother with making it ‘easier’. One comment on the MIT article effectively states that the person concerned wouldn’t spend the price of a stamp on voting, wouldn’t go to a polling station, but might consider email – does anyone like that deserve a vote or isn’t it seen to be making enough of a difference?


E-election mania

May 9, 2010

Now that all the frenzy has started to dissipate (I hope), it’s time to look back and consider the role of the Internet and social media, if there ever was one in reality. PublicTechnology.net were pretty quick off the mark saying that it hadn’t happened as expected largely because the electorate weren’t ready for it.

Personally I enjoyed a few moments on YouTube where idle cynics had made light of different politicians capacity to speak the truth by dubbing words and songs onto their videos. I’m sure many more people did this and suspect that it still had an influence. Perhaps where the difference with the US is, is that we don’t have the ability to actually broadcast this type of stuff on the TV, perhaps the result might have been different if we did?

Jon Snow in the Times seems to agree with me about the media driving the politicians and not the other way around, if we are to try and compare with the USA. One newly elected MP, Elizabeth Truss, writing in the Guardian  doesn’t fully agree and can see an opening for the Internet in politics.

Perhaps this is where the difference with the US comes in. The national media were driving it as a race for the presidency, which the local media followed to some extent. However in the UK we are supposed to be electing a local representative, who may then have an influence in creating a Prime Minister.

Who knows? With the large batch of new MP’s perhaps there will be some big changes in elections and channel usage? I even heard calls for e-voting as a result of the problems at some polling stations. I just pray they come up with something more fool-proof than the postal voting system, which can be a nightmare to manage!

Now, if we all had biometric ID cards…