If you’re not doing anything else on May 3rd…

by Stephen Tall on March 13, 2007

I’m all for making it easier to vote, and for piloting new and different systems. Sadly, New Labour’s typically authoritarian early experiments have included the abolition of the private ballot – or compulsory postal voting as it was better known.

This too often led to well-documented illegalities – among all parties – as well as countless undocumented abuses where the ‘head of the household’ cast votes on behalf of his entire family.

This Government’s typically cavalier approach to individual rights, with scant regard for the more vulnerable members of our society, has devalued positive proposals for flexible voting arrangements in the public’s eyes.

So it’s no surprise that such measures – including electronic voting – are met with some degree of scepticism, as evidenced by this e-mail I received today, sent on behalf of www.openrightsgroup.org:

Despite the well known problems with e-voting and e-counting the government is pressing ahead with pilots at the May 2007 local elections. To make sure we all get a true picture of how these pilots are run, the Open Rights Group calls for people on the ground in every local authority where pilots will be held to help with our fully accredited election observer programme. We’ll provide full instructions on the activitie expected of you on the day and also supply a factsheet of what to look out for in each of the different pilots. We’ll expect you to be travelling around the pilot area during the day, and to turnaround a quick report for us afterwards.

Please help us reach willing volunteers across the country by highlighting the issue and in particular our signup page on pledgebank at http://www.pledgebank.com/electionwatch07

If you or your colleagues want to learn or do more, please take a look at our e-voting mini-site’s summaries, extensive briefing pack and suggestions for activism at http://www.openrightsgroup.org/e-voting-main/

Electronic voting will be piloted in: Rushmoor, Sheffield, Shrewsbury & Atcham, South Bucks and Swindon. Electronic counting will be piloted in: Bedford, Breckland, Dover, South Bucks, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council.

Thanks for your support on this crucial issue.

I imagine many readers may already have plans for election day (telling, knocking up, last minute leaflets, etc) – but, if not, there are worse ways of spending some of May 3rd.

It’s a sad reflection that New Labour has so undermined trust in our democracy that democracy itself has been brought into disrepute.