05 May, 2007

Scotland Votes

As does Wales and some of England. Aside from the whole "SNP - raving lunatics or the new friendly face of Scotland" debate, I was struck by how the UK was considering embracing a ridiculous voting system on the basis of their spurious modernity, a move that mirrors Ireland's failed embrace of electronic voting a couple of years ago. In particular there seem to have been plans to adopt internet and mobile telephone voting in elections, as part of an attempt to turn the choosing of people to run the country into a parody of Big Brother. This seems to have been cancelled at the last minute because of security issues with the software: Government cancelled e-vote schemes amid security fears

The whole business is very strange and says a lot about our times - the state initially thought it was a good idea to replace a perfectly functional technology with something that did not work reliably simply because it looked more shiny and modern. Even aside from the software security issues, people need to realise that internet and phone voting is fundamentally flawed and should be rejected by all democratic societies. A key feature of democracy is that a person's vote is inalienable - they must not be able to pass it on to someone else for money or other consideration. With remote electronic voting it is practically impossible to guarantee that people will not allow others to vote for them.


Andrew Farrell said...

We are talking about a nation that still uses first-past-the-post, remember.

ian said...

I hear you, but in elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly they use regional lists to proportionalise the results after the constituency seats have been elected by first past the post.

I gather that in Scotland people had to use three different voting systems on polling day (local elections were using the single transferable vote for the first time), resulting in a terrifyingly high level of spoils.