This applies only in the UK.
Hands up those who have noticed the subtle note-taking that takes place whenever you go to vote? If you haven’t, pay attention next time you go. You take your polling card to the polling station and show it to the returning officer. They give you a ballot paper with a number on it.
Here’s the important bit. They write the number of your polling card (which identifies you) on the stub of the ballot paper! Therefore we do not have a secret ballot. When I’ve asked after this, I’m always told that it’s for security, but with no further elaboration. Exactly how does matching my “secret” vote ensure security? And what are they trying to secure?
Upon asking further about this “security” I’ve been met with anger and hostility. Once I’ve been asked to leave. It’s just a question.
I’ve looked into this as best I can and cannot find another country that does this. Therefore, we are either the most insecure nation on the planet, or something else is afoot. The thing is, I found out that the latter statement is true and what that “something else” is. It wouldn’t be cricket for me to mention who this source is, but I’ll tell you what’s going on.
The short story is that they back-trace the votes for those parties they consider to be “extreme” or “undesirable” and work out who is voting for them. The compiled lists are then circulated around any authority who is interested. The problem is that there is no public list of which parties are considered to be extreme. Sure, the BNP would be on it. But what about someone like UKIP? That’s more of a borderline case.
So what happens to the people who are listed? Probably very little at the moment, but the point is that the option exists. And who gets the list? The police? MI5? The CIA? What about future employers? Insurance companies? Who knows? I don’t, but I sure as hell care. This isn’t because I necessarily plan to vote BNP. But in principle I should be allowed to do so if I so chose.
I know some people will think that this sounds impractical on the basis of the man-hours that would be required to back-trace one vote. But wake up!! It’s not done by human beings! It’s all done by machine. When you consider a very decent document scanner can be purchased for the home for around GBP 300, what can the civil service afford (with your money)? Just load it up with ballot papers and press Go. The polling card numbers are already on a database, since they were generated from there in the first place. Suddenly it’s not so hard to siphon off the “traceworthy” votes.
Your vote is not not secret. Not even close.
The system of writing the polling card numbers was born some time in the 1800s. I’m not inclined to look up the exact date as I type this. This was essentially out of fear for a new system when it was introduced. Now our voting system has become established, one should be asking why the practice continues. We don’t need it unless it’s being used for something. Have a think about that.