Tuesday, 3 November 2020

American Voting

Happy Election day!

Alongside all the other reasons to be watching the American elections I have been looking at how they implement the actual voting part. In previous years a lot of the coverage in this area has been about voting machines, from hanging chads to hacking. But a number of things this year seem like they are both good ideas in general and implementable in a UK general election.

Early Voting

This is the easiest to endorse, it has even been trialed in the UK (I'll see if I can find the report later). The way the trial worked, a centralised location, marking off voters on the actual paper copies of the electoral roll that would then be issued to polling stations to prevent repeats, fitted in with the british electoral esthetic that in general thinks the most complex piece of technology in use should be a peg.

Kerbside/drive through Voting

One of the really big issues with polling stations in the UK is accessibility. So providing an alternate option that improves access to voting has to be a good thing. Given that there would be limited venues available in order to not require pre-registration it would probably need to also be a pre-election day activity. Also if we were going to stick to the idea that there is "one true copy" of the register then there would need to be a system to avoid allowing people to use both forms of early voting. Off the top of my head, the "inner envelope" part of postal voting, so until the voting lists can be cross checked the ballot can be linked to the voter and destroyed if a duplicate.

Postal Ballot Acknowledgement

A tonne of the commentary running up to the election has been that the postal service has been used as a political football. As a consequence of this there have been a lot of articles around the subject of "What to do if your postal ballot doesn't arrive or is rejected". I was intrigued that being able to check up on this was a thing. And while this would require the use of technology, it is an enhancement (assuming a general low level of ballots missing/rejected) that if broken wouldn't halt the election so it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. So a simple website that tells people their ballot has been received, signatures matched etc. would allow people to spot rejections and do something about it.

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