Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The underwater vote

You don't need to think about it. In fact, it helps not to think about it. But local election turn-outs in the UK are low. People are disengaged from politics. More people vote for Britain's Got Talent than in European elections. It's easier to vote for Britain's Got Talent, we can do it in total security with our phones. Which is how we do everything else. So why do we have to go all the way to the local church hall and pencil a cross on a piece of paper to vote in general elections?

Some people are convinced by these points. The Electoral Reform Society, for example, and the Speaker of the House of Commons. Even the Electoral Commission on a bad day. They shouldn't be.

People dance outside a polling station in Pyongyang
Instead, they should take their inspiration from North Korea where yesterday "there was dancing in the streets of Pyongyang, according to North Korea’s state-controlled media, as voters turned out in droves to cast their ballots in elections for assemblies at provincial, city and county level". How often do we see that in Wimbledon?

Apparently "the official turnout in Sunday’s election was 99.97 per cent, the KCNA news agency said. The perfect 100 was spoilt only by 'those on foreign tour or working in oceans', with elderly or ill voters able to use mobile ballot boxes".

The first tentative step has been taken in the UK towards electronic voting. We can now submit an application to register to vote using the Government Digital Service's individual electoral registration system, which totters along for the moment with no identity assurance and no reassurance that our application has been successful.

North Korea asks the questions. The UK has no answer. Secure electronic voting in the UK is still a long way off, whatever Martha-now-Lady Lane Fox says. Even if we get there, what promise is there that we will be able to vote underwater?

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