Election Time


Ballot PaperVoting in any election is supposed to be secret, no-one should know how you’ve voted. That’s the theory anyway, so why are postal voting slips (ballot papers) numbered?

Each ballot paper has a serial number printed on the back. Along with that ballot paper is a form each voter has to complete to confirm his/her identity, a Postal Voting Statement, which contains a matching serial number. It therefore follows that by comparing the serial numbers it’s possible to know exactly how a particular person voted. The secrecy is blown wide open!

Of course there needs to be checks to prevent fraud, but there must be a better, more secure and private, way of doing it.

I’m not alone in feeling that such a system is open to abuse. Perhaps someone from the Electoral Commission or other regulatory body would reassure me of the anonymity of our voting system.

Update 27/04/15“Ask, and it shall be given”, & so the Electoral Commission responded as follows…

“It is a requirement of the election rules that the elector number is written against the number of the ballot papers issued to a particular elector on the corresponding number list. This system is essentially an updated version of a system that dates from the Ballot Act 1872, which was introduced to avoid the possibility of counterfeit ballot papers being used and to assist with the detection of alleged fraud. Clearly, if the ballot papers are numbered, it is far more difficult for an unscrupulous person to introduce copies of official ballot papers into the ballot box. If a fraudulent act has occurred, it would be possible to detect the offence by reference to the corresponding number list. There is a safeguard to prevent the ballot paper numbers on the corresponding list being linked with the marked ballot papers. At the close poll, the corresponding number list is placed in a sealed envelope by the Presiding Officer at the polling station. The sealed envelope is then taken to the Returning Officer. The only occasion when the sealed packets can be opened is on the order of a judge as a result of an election petition or in furtherance of an investigation into an alleged election offence. Even then, it is very rare for the documents to be examined except in cases where fraud or personation (i.e. someone voting illegally on someone else’s behalf) are being investigated. Because of these safeguards, it is virtually impossible for any person to be in a position to marry up an elector to a particular ballot paper. For that reason, electors can be confident that the ballot remains secret. Electors have no grounds to fear that the way in which they voted could be detected, except under the very special circumstances outlined above.”

So, there you have it. Decide for yourself how safe your vote is.


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