Saturday, May 05, 2007

Electoral chaos and the judgement of Babel

In their attempt to build a tower that would reach to the heavens, the ancient Babylonians offended God with their architectural arrogance, and their voices were forever confounded and cursed to perpetual confusion. The modern era similarly offends with its technological arrogance. Our sky-high buildings are symbiotic with the indwelling computers and electronic wizardry, which appear to supplant God with their omniscient omnipotence. Yet once again man has been humiliated and humbled as e-voting has resulted in confusion, chaos, and undermined trust in the democratic process.

Across Scotland, more than 100,000 have been discounted as rejected ballot papers, so 5% of voters were disenfranchised. Their votes are in the bin, and the hands with which they voted have been severed. In Glasgow Shettleston alone there were 2,035 spoiled ballots and most constituencies saw at least 1,000 papers rejected. In some areas, the rejected votes outnumbered the winners' majority, and right across the UK many counts were suspended due to problems with the electronic counting systems.

First-past-the-post was simple, and human beings counting paper ballot papers were visible, tangible, and yielded a clear result within hours which could be corroborated with recounts if necessary. We now have elections which deploy three separate ballot papers - list, constituency, and single transferable vote - some requiring a cross, and others requiring numbers and ranked preferences. They take days instead of hours to count, and as computers crash and counting machines jam, there is no easy way to perform recounts, and absolutely no assurance that every vote cast will be included.

The United Kingdom, which has a proud history of parliamentary democracy, now has an electoral system worthy of a banana republic. It is immoral and corrupt. With the on-going concern over postal-vote fraud, Britain’s democratic process has fallen into disrepute, with demands for reviews and assurances of judicial inquiry. A system that was intended to maximise the turnout and ensure that no one's vote was wasted had, ironically, completely the opposite effect.

What on earth was wrong with the system we had?


Anonymous Voyager said...

Your Grace is unduly pessimistic. the people of Northern Ireland have used multiple voting systems for a) Westminster b) EU "Parliament" c) N I Assembly and have managed without the curse od The Scottish Play

It might be because the concept of the Ballot-Box and the Armalite has concentrated minds and little boys like Douglas Alexander were not let loose trying to be too clever by half.

There was no reason to run the elections together....none whatsoever. Local Elections could have run separately from Assembly elections especially as the STV system was newly introduced. It was sheer hubris

Francois Mitterand changed the French electoral system at will from PR to First past the post depending on how he viewed his prospects of re-election.

Had the Scottish Incompetents at Holyrood run a proper publicity campaign all would have been well.....but they thought all the votes could be bundled in the Labour Sack and noone would be the is what happenes in a one-party state when the voters rebel

5 May 2007 at 17:58  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Voyager,

The problem was not merely the simultaneous deployment of different methods of voting, and the inherent potential for confusion, but the widespread breakdown of electronic voting and counting machines which were being piloted by many local authorities throughout England (at a cost to the taxpayer of millions of pounds).

It is not so much the curse of the Scottish Play as The Comedy of Errors.

5 May 2007 at 18:20  
Anonymous billy said...

The old system had to be upgraded. Labour was having a lot of trouble fiddling the old system.

5 May 2007 at 18:41  
Anonymous John Hayward, The Difference said...

I take it that must be a rhetorical question, as your Grace knows as well as anyone else what was wrong with the previous system – it had come to be part of the proud history to which you refer, the established institutions and traditions of this country that NuLabour has sought to destroy.

5 May 2007 at 18:50  
Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said...

Ah, but you see Your Grace, our good old trusted system wasn't MODERN.

5 May 2007 at 19:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NuLabours moto
If it ain't broke, then break it

5 May 2007 at 23:49  
Anonymous Colin said...

"What on earth was wrong with the system we had?"

The problem was that it couldn't be manipulated so easily. Now, who is able to control the computer code of the coding machines. In the US, the code is secret. I assume the same is the case in the UK. First, 80% of laws are made in Brussels by unelected officials. Now, the results of voting is becoming more and more difficult to control. Furthermore, more and more liberties are abandonned in order "to fight terrorism". Let's add PC, quotas and the "need" to save the world from the "doom" of global warming, and the direction of the voyage is obvious to everyone still able to distinguish between facts and fantasy, i.e. away from democratic rule.

5 May 2007 at 23:58  
Anonymous Voyager said...

This article tends to support your thesis Your Grace

Voting Machine

6 May 2007 at 06:16  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

This just proves again labour is incapable of running anything. Where I live the result is still not available due to problems with the Spanish supplied computer system. They are now deciding if they should count them by hand.
Any comments form the BBC yet.?

6 May 2007 at 06:51  

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