blogging, Musings of Matt Doy, Politics, Uncategorized

Lets get digital – Electronic voting & ID cards?

As the fallout from the 2017 General Election continues, it’s an opportune time to look at voting in the 21st Century. As the young turned out in force, there has also been talk of the use of technology and voting via electronic methods. As many of us either own a laptop/pc, tablet or smartphone, is it not time to think about using these to vote in future elections? Whilst there would still be the time period on election day, people could vote from their phone or their pc/laptop without having the need to go to out to a polling station. Shift workers will be able to cast a vote without having to worry about trying to reach their polling station in time or taking time out.

Not everyone though will have access to a computer or a smartphone, so it would be possible for people to have a postal vote if they so wished if they weren’t able to have the electronic version. Of course the Postal vote system would need  tightened and made more secure as there have always been concerns regarding the method.

With the option of electronic voting, everyone would have an individual code that they would take with them regardless of where they are living. The voter would just need to register the code when they move and the system would update. By having electronic voting and a more secure postal vote system, it will mean a less costs for the local authorities as they wont need to pay for Presiding officers or polling clerks in the day time or counters for the evening/overnight. It would make things easier for Electoral Services departments up and down the country.

It will be interesting to see what readers have to say, comments completely welcome.

Now to something more controversial. The ID card has always been something that brings cynicism and distrust. There are naturally big concerns regarding the idea of the ID card. The Big Brother notion is something that people aren’t keen on seeing. They see a distrust and possible abuse of the system.

If a bio ID card could consist of a thumbprint/DNA set up. The card would hold travel permissions, driving permissions. It would not only reduce the need for multi levels of identification, but will of course reduce the levels of staff in the Passport Office and DVLA. The savings would allow money to be invested elsewhere. but it would naturally also help reduce the crime level and crime detection time. Using thumbprint/DNA would naturally make people jumpy, but as much of a cliché it is, law abiding citizens would have no need to worry.

The Conservative and Lib Dem of course saw the end to the National ID project back in the beginning of the Coalition Agreement with the repeal of the 2006 legislation and destruction of the National Identity Register. This will never see the light of day as a mandatory option. What though if people would like to have the option of one card with all information held on?

For myself the idea of having one card with all the info on it, sounds great and sounds useful, but it would only ever be voluntary.

Again, it will be interesting to see what readers think.



3 thoughts on “Lets get digital – Electronic voting & ID cards?”

  1. The Estonian model is an interesting one. Seems to be running quite successfully:
    People tend to be very cautious about any form of ID card but personally, I don’t have a problem with it so long as there are appropriate controls in place, including what governments and law enforcement agencies can and can’t do with any information embedded in those card.

    An alternate approach to 100% electronic voting is simply using scanning and electronic mark recognition technology on the existing paper ballot papers. This would speed up counting, meaning the results would be available within an hour of polls closing.


    1. Thanks for the comments.
      Funnily enough Estonia was mentioned in our conversation.

      That is very much the issue isn’t it, people worrying about government and law enforcement access.

      How would the electronic mark recognition work?


      1. So everyone votes as they usually do by marking their ballot sheet and placing it in a box. Under the eye of scrutineers, the papers are removed at intervals throughout the day and passed through Scanner #1. The software (tried & tested technology over 50 years old) recognises where the tick is and captures the vote in Computer #1 (standalone, not connected to the internet, not hackable). The papers are then loaded into Scanner #2 (same process) and then into Scanner #3. At the end of this process (which takes minutes), you have 3 separate data sets on 3 separate computers. At 10pm, the data sets are loaded into Computer 4 and checked for errors. All being well, the data sets will be identical and no further action needed. If discrepancies, they can be investigated by checking individual batches of forms. As a last resort, you still have the ballot papers that can be manually counted. The technology is used every day in many industries and is reliable. In theory, you should get the result within half-hour of the vote closing.
        There is a cost but the cost is balanced by cost-savings elsewhere (e.g. all the people counting until 4am).


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