If I want to buy something on Amazon or eBay, I’m required to verify I am who I say I am. They’ll ask me for my username and password.
My password isn’t a matter of public knowledge, because I don’t want any of you to buy Michael Bublé CDs using my credit card.
If I want to post something on Twitter I will again have to jump through various hoops. It will ask me for a username a password, and then it will use Login Verifications to check that I am in physical possession of a phone that I have connected to my Twitter account.
That means if I am careless with my password, the chances of someone being able to hijack my Twitter account remain small. You won’t be able to tweet that I am a fan of Michael Bublé. Which wouldn’t be true.
However, if I want to vote in today’s UK election I don’t need a password. I don’t even need to show photo ID or dig out my passport.
All I have to do is show up to my local polling station, tell them my name and address (both easy to find out), and… well, that’s enough.
They’ll cross my name off their list and invite me to enter a little tent where I will put a cross next to the candidate of my least disliked party, and then potentially rue my decision for the next five years.
I’m not sure what happens if I turn up and they check their little list and say “Oh, we’ve already had a Graham Cluley from 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam in today. You must be an imposter.”
Do they try to work out who the fake Graham Cluley voted for? Do they give me two votes to make up for the bogus voter?
Wouldn’t it be better if there was at least some token effort made to verify people’s identity before they make a decision which could determine which party governs our country for the next five years?
An Electoral Commission report from 2014 appears to agree with me:
Finally, we should move to a system where voters are required to produce identification at polling stations. We gathered substantial evidence during our review that the lack of a requirement for ID is both an actual and a perceived weakness in the system. This move would introduce a new requirement for voters casting their ballot in a polling station, and we have considered carefully whether this will deter some voters from taking part. Our conclusion, again based on the evidence we gathered during the review, is that this risk can be managed and that it is therefore right to make this change, for the sake of the benefits it will bring in terms of improving the security of the system. A similar requirement already exists in Northern Ireland, where ID to vote has been required since 2002, as well as in many other countries.
I understand that people don’t want anyone to know who they have voted for, but an identity check at polling booths wouldn’t allow that.
I also understand that some people may want it to be private as to whether they voted or not (voting in the UK is not compulsory), but the current “little list” already makes a note of who has come in and who hasn’t, and doesn’t - of course - prevent anyone from spoiling their ballot paper if they wish.
I guess one concern is that in Britain we don’t have identity cards, and not everyone has a credit card, a driving license or a passport. As a minimum you would expect a polling station to require you to bring the little voting registration card that they send through the post - but they don’t even need you to bother with that.
There’s lots of talk about introducing e-voting in future, something I am sure many would have collywobbles over. But before we can even begin to consider taking that step, shouldn’t we introduce the most basic checks in polling booths that voters are who they say they are?
Leave a comment below with your thoughts. And don’t forget to vote. Or not. The choice is yours.
I just wish there was an anti-Michael Bublé party.