Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Open letter to the UK about electoral reform: remember Scotlands 2007 election debacle

Before adopting the electoral reform known as AV, the United Kingdom should learn from Scotland’s 2007 election debacle. Making big changes (like adopting AV) in elections processes can create chaos that disenfranchises voters and easily hides election rigging.

The UK is strongly considering two proposals that undermine each other:

Making ballots more complex makes counting them more laborious. This incentivizes computerized vote counting. That is what happened in Scotland in 2007. The Electoral Reform Society recommended the ballots be counted by computers, not by hand.

The results of the electoral reform adopted by Scotland in 2007? Chaos and massive voter disenfranchisement:

Not so much an election as a national humiliation
Scotland’s voters were treated with arrogance and contempt
. May 7, 2007 ...More than 100,000 people – around one in 20 of those who voted – had their ballot papers rejected in the election: a figure so scandalous that analogies with hanging chads don’t really begin to describe it....

And now they are stuck with it - for the time being:

System used in 2007 will return for 2012 council polls Award election contract with caution – MSP The voting and counting system now synonymous with the election night debacle of 2007 will return for the council elections in 2012, the Scottish Government has confirmed
The government’s determination to stick with STV guarantees the return of electronic counting, because a manual count would take up to three days.

The group that promoted a vote ranking method to Scotland and now a vote ranking method for the United Kingdom, was once caught in rigging its own election.

Electoral Reform Society admits its vote was rigged
By Paul Lashmar Monday, 17 July 2000…
The Electoral Reform Society, the august body that conducts independent ballots for many organisations including trade unions, has suffered the embarrassment of its own ballot rigging scandal.

“This has been a major blow to the credibility of the society. It hasin the past had a reputation for honesty which is crucial when runningballots. The fact that members of the society would stoop to ballotrigging is very worrying.”

Will the UK both mandate election night counting and ultimately Approval Voting, also called AV? If so, will the UK also abandon hand counted paper ballots as did Scotland? Lets hope that voters and officials in the United Kingdom carefully consider the risks and consequences of making drastic changes to the electoral system.

What more efficient way to rig an election or disenfranchise voters than to create massive chaos? Mass chaos helps cloak any deliberate election fraud and works twice as well.

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