If you are a resident of the UK you will have been living a hermit-like existence not to realise there is a looming general election. However, for many, the countdown to the 7th May is somewhat less exciting than the music charts countdown.
The True Costs
The logistics, planning and administration that go into a general election are something to admire. It is estimated that the cost to simply administer the election is in the order of £150m. Given the investment and complexity, what are the risks of electoral fraud?
In recent years reports of electoral fraud have become commonplace around the world. Globally it is estimated that 80% of elections come under the scrutiny of international observers. One of the main areas of abuse and therefore challenge for scrutinisers is verifying the identities of voters at polling stations.
Can Technology Reduce Electoral Fraud?
In the recent Nigerian presidential election a registration and voter biometric identification system was introduced to verify voter identity. Whilst the introduction of the new system was a partial success, there were many instances of the biometric readers failing and the polling stations having to revert back to traditional manual methods. We therefore need to recognise that adopting new voting technologies has risks. However, it does have clear benefits in validating voter’s identities as well as offering the potential for results to be announced soon after polling stations close.
A report on electoral fraud in the UK was published 2014. It set out that although electoral fraud is not widespread there were cases of fraud focused in specific electoral wards in England. The report published a number of recommendations that will come into effect in the imminent general election. Sadly the report did not categorically recommend the introduction of new voting technologies.
If new voting technologies are introduced an obvious benefit may be a less sleep deprived nation. It may well be the last election night where large swathes of the population stay up all night waiting for the result.
For more information on UK election governance visit The Electoral Commission.
Other articles in the May Bridewell of Knowledge
Is the UK really that bad?
Who has the keys to my encryption door?
And Finally……….Sleep well and don’t have nightmares
Read/Print the Full May Bridewell of Knowledge Bridewell of Knowledge May