back to article Voting chaos in not-fit-for-purpose electoral system

As the dust cleared on a strangely uneventful election night, two aspects of the supposedly cast-iron British electoral system may finally have been found to be "not fit for purpose". First up is the antiquated and now thoroughly discredited way in which we, the electorate, express our views about our would-be politicians …

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  1. andy 88

    true, but

    evoting from home? stand by for a lose of the secret ballot and the fear of a phished election

  2. Chad H.
    WTF?

    Did I read that correctly?

    How could this happen? After all, since the dawn of the 21st century, the system has been very simple: we just visit vote.gov.uk, tap in our unique voter number, and press a button to indicate which party we want to vote for. Voting closes at 10 pm - and the national result is declared some 60 seconds later.

    ---

    And here we build the tools of Tyrany. I think we've seen exactly (thanks to Diebold) what happens with electronic voting without a paper trail. One guy gets too many votes, and the other guy gets a negative number of votes.

    There can be no true faith in our vote if there is not a physical vote to count. I'd have thought a technology news website would know all to well how easy electronic data can be manipulated. Guess I thought wrong.

  3. Adrian Challinor
    FAIL

    Time for a change

    I went to my polling station before 8am on Thursday. Even then, with only 4 people in the queue ahead of me it took 5 minutes to get a ballot paper. I could see then that there was going to be problems later in the day - and if I can see it, it is a monumental failure of the electoral clerks and returning officers that they didn't also see it.

    So, the voting mechanics are as broken in Britain as they are in any third world country. Firstly, Britain has to stop preaching that "we know best because we are the mother of parliaments". The sight of voters locked out of polling stations shows we have the mother of embarrassments.

    Why is it so difficult to get a proper, secure, computerized voting system? And no, I don't think that this needs an ID scheme to do it. Surely we can issue people with a voter registration system that depends on something you have (a voter card) and something you know (a PIN for example). You could go to any PC, enter the two items and vote - if this is safe enough for ATM's why is it not safe enough for voting?

    After the fiasco of last night we would actually have been better handing the whole voting issue to Simon Cowell and do it one a telephone poll. Then we still get the muppets from Britains Got Talent, but at least we make the election in to cash generator.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unlucky

      I went at quarter to seven after my tea. Had my ballot marked and in the box within a minute of entering.

    2. Al Jones

      "safe enough for ATMs"

      You can't be serious - have you been under a rock for the last 10 years?

      An ATM transaction isn't a secret - you know how much you took out, and so does your Bank, and there's a transaction record to keep track of the transaction.

      A vote is a secret - nobody knows how you voted, and once your ballot paper goes into the box, it can't be traced back to you (ballot paper serial numbers aside - that's a whole different argument).

      You'd probably be quite pleased to get a call from your bank to say "Someone just tried to buy jewelry with your credit card in Hong Kong - was that really your transaction?". I'm sure you'd be a lot less sanguine about it if you got a call from the Returning Officer the week after an Election saying "We know that you've voted for Party X all your life, but we noticed that you voted for Party Z last week - was there an error, or should we discount that vote?"

      Computerizing elections doesn't generate any benefits for society - certainly not enough to justify the cost of equipment that will only be used 3 or 4 times per decade.

  4. Robin Layfield
    Go

    much better, thank you

    See, the Register can write a balanced and thought-provoking political article (with a tech angle|) when it wants to...

  5. AndrueC Silver badge

    There is another way

    ..you could register to vote by post. I cast my vote last week.

    Of course then you have to worry about yet more fraud :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proportional Representation

    Anything else will be a con..

    I can see Cameron now, he wants another election ASAP, he thinks if he accuses the libs of using a minority to demand PR then he can kibosh any agreement and drag parliament back to the people.

    I think that Britain has made a big mistake and Murdock is laughing his cock off

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Poor Campagins

      Lord please spare us from more baby kissing.

      Cameron may have his own troubles given that he will be shouldering the blame for an unsuccessful* Tory campagain.

      Interesting times, and I feel fine :^)

      * (I know the Tories have the greater number of seats, and Cameron did likely try everything he could, but after the Tory faithful conceeding a lot of deeply held and irrational prejedices in the name of modernisation they might not be happy with the lacklustre victory that Cameron has delivered).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    qwertuiop and/or 1234567890

    "The system has evolved little since the early days of the last century. Its reliance on physical processes means that the scope for error is huge"

    And what effect do you imagine electronic voting will have on the scope for error?

    Are you aware of the track record of public sector IT?

    Yer 'avin' a larf.

  8. Alien Doctor 1.1
    Big Brother

    Bring on the STV and PR

    Based on the voting % after 601 declarations, using the BBC News voter numbers, with a decent electoral system the seat counts ought to be:

    Conservatives 36.3% 236 seats

    Labour 28.9% 188 seats

    LibDems 22.9% 149 seats

    Others 11.9% 77 seats

    We have, once again, been thoroughly shafted by an antique electoral practise and by a house of commons that care more about themselves than really doing anything practical and useful for this country.

    Bastards.

    Big Brother? Yep, he's raising his ugly mug again after hiding it during the campaign in the name of public relations.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    paperless voting

    One minor correction: you do not need to carry that piece of paper they sent you in the post to vote.

    Just give them your name and address when you arrive. Nothing more is needed.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Nothing more is needed.

      No, you don't need anything more, but that slows down the whole process for everyone else (as mentioned in another post elsewhere, staff were taking between 40 seconds and one minute to deal with each voter, the extra time depending on if they had their polling card or not).

      Oh and I accidentally upvoted that post instead of hitting "reply"...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    BTDT

    I suggest you google 'diebold' + 'election' before you criticise paper ballots ...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    True, true

    True.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Physical, not reliable? Or lazyness just your own personal choice?

    Is this The Register? Has your site been somehow taken control of by Diebold (or whatever their name is today)?

    Since when a physical electoral process is less reliable than an electronic one? I've counted votes for years, and yes, I've made mistakes sometimes. And my neighbour noticed and we corrected.

    When the blackbox makes a mistake and give a negative count for a candidate, it's harder to check why. Or when your kids votes for you. Or when husband votes for his wife. Or boss for his employees. Or the latest internet worm for half the Windows user population.

    BTW, small suggestion: France votes on weekends. So most people don't have to go after work. At 8pm, it's over. No waiting queues.

    Oh, but it's the French, so it must be inherently evil, right? And democracy is not worth moving your butt over one day every few years, clicking on a button from home is the maximum you can give it?

    And waiting a few hours to count is so intolerable, you want results NOW. Or else, your attention span will be exhausted and you won't be able to get out of your latest iPhart application to go do your job as a reporter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      This wombat votes on Saturdays

      Australia votes on Saturdays.

      Not every Saturday; but there's a thought! Imagine being able to vote "no confidence" for those warming the benches in Parliament and cause another election to be called by ad-hoc referendum.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We use this system because it works.

    If you've got a better suggestion, go ahead. (I'm ignoring / laughing at your facetious statement about voting over the web.)

    1. Chad H.
      Alert

      Well....

      In Australia, they Vote on a saturday, close the polls at 5pm, have manditory voting (so 100% turnout all done before 5pm) , and you can go to any polling station in your electorate. Each polling station has a couple of copies of the roll to speed things up.

      No staying up all night to learn who the PM is, you'll probably know by midnight.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Better suggestions?

      Well, about the only system worse than yours is the American one.

  14. Cees de Groot 1

    Electronic voting? Please no

    Paper voting sucks, but it sucks in exactly the way democracy sucks - we have yet to come up with a better system. Here in the Netherlands, electronic voting was (rightfully) cast out of the window a couple of years ago, and given all the Reg coverage on how badbadbad voting machines are, I'm surprised to read, albeit between the lines, a call for electronic voting.

    I'm not sure how this works in the UK, but in the Netherlands vote counting is a public process, where any citizen can come in after closing time and witness the counting. Sure, it's a fallible process, but it is trackable - voting machines are not.

    As for your funny district system... yeah... get rid of it ;-)

  15. Jimmahh
    Pint

    Not to be a pedant (but it's an IT news site so what can you expect)

    "...the legitimacy of forming a government with the ringing endorsement of just over a third of the electorate"

    It's just over a third of the people who voted, not the whole electorate, much less the British people (to badly paraphrase a man called Gil =)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Sorry was this the Guardian website?

    It is the MPs not fit for purpose

    Changing the Voting system will just lead to unfairness and problems in a different ways to the current system - and with the current MPs unlikely to give a better running of country

  17. ShaggyDoggy

    Misrepresentative

    "Labour, on 28.7 per cent have 232 seats - and Lib Dems, on 22.8 per cent, have 50 seats"

    This can not be fair in anybody's election.

    We are not Zimbabwe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misrepresentative

      ShaggyDoggy wrote: "We are not Zimbabwe."

      Erm, I wouldn't be so sure about that.

  18. Beau
    Grenade

    Led by the nose again!!!

    For as long as this stupid fuc--ng system insures that only Labour or Tories can ever be elected, they will both support it, so it will never be changed. The British public are being led by the nose as always. The term "Hung Parliament" is a very simple and effective scare tactic, for the stupid British electorate. Anywhere else a "Hung Parliament" is known as a coalition government, and they work at least as well, if not better than simple majorities, as the views of the electorate are much better represented.

    1. Paul 4

      Nooooo....

      A Hung paliment is not a coalition government... A coalition government is formed in the event of a Hung Parliament, or it can be a minority government. They are known the same way all over the EU.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scope for error

    With respect to our voting system you say, "Its reliance on physical processes means that the scope for error is huge"

    Why is the scope for error better or worse the other means? I've noticed that reliance on electronic processes or IT doesn't seem to improve reliability - in fact, it seems to leave us open to some truly catastrophic botch-ups. Physical processes, i.e. people handling pieces of paper, does have an identifiable margin for error, but is really very dependable.

    To my mind, the most notable problem is that the number of seats apportioned to the various parties doesn't seem even close to the proportion of the vote they received. For example (at the time of writing) the Lib Dems have about 8% of the total seats despite receiving about 23% of the votes, yet Labour have about 37% of the seats from 29% of the votes. How does this make sense?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      Scope for inefficiency

      I think we can let the Reg of for using a less than brillant IT angle to open up a wedge in to the bigger story of the, in general, brokendown general election.

      Lets tally it all up:

      * Requires 10 days notice to register to vote,

      * relies on the royal mail to deliver the details of where you vote,

      * assumes you have enough local knowledge (hard if like most people you are not local) to find the polling station,

      * assumes that the registration process works and your name will actually show up on the register at the local polling station (good luck if you end up at some other polling station), and

      * as last night showed it all assumes that the largely volunteer staffed polling stations are smart enough and resourced enough to handle the sporadic voting that comes from an society working more and unusual hours than any other European democracy.

      Of all of the above assumes that you are in a three marginal where you vote might actual be purposefully cast for the party of your choice, or second best you are in a marginal where you can at least vote out/down a party you detest/fear, but most likely is you'll be in a seat where hardly anything ever happens.

      (Note on personal bias, being from N.Ireland, where nothing has much changed in 100 years of "democracy", I'm a might more cynical than most, though perhaps no more than most Reg commentators).

  20. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Troll

    Sir

    Just who are these people who voted Labour? Are they mentally insane?

    If you voted Labour, could you explain what 'benefits' you have received from this government that was worth £170bn of national debt? I really am curious.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      According to my father in law

      GB got us in to this mess so he is best placed to get us out of it. I kid you not... He is a hardcore labour voter.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Sir

        In principle, that's not as ludicrous as it first sounds, but it very much depends on the personality involved.

        If the person who made the mistake recognises it as a mistake, understands why it happened and resolves to learn from it (assuming they are capable) having taken full responsibility for it, then yes - this person is the right one to fix the mistake.

        The problem arises when you're faced with politicians who, by their very nature, are completely incapable of doing the above.

  21. Keith T
    WTF?

    Polling Reform Suggestions

    1. Consider advance poll days, where people can vote in person ahead of polling day. In Canada we have 3 of them, usually one in each of the three weeks ahead of the election.

    2. Consider shifting your polling day to Saturday or Sunday or both.

    3. If you go to voting machines, use the optical reader type so there is a voter created paper trail for re-counts. (These are used in local elections in Canada, where people may be voting on 10 to 30 different things, and work well. It is paper ballots federally, because each voter only makes one choice.)

    4. The US has had terrible integrity problems with electronic-only voting machines and machines that electronically produce a paper trail. Avoid those. Problems include hacking and breakdowns.

    5. You've had problems with fraud and postal ballots. Probably you should curtail those.

    6. We all know the internet is not secure enough for something as important as federal elections.

  22. Mr Larrington
    Grenade

    Bah!

    Those dribbling cretins have had THIRTEEN years to sort out the mess that is the British electoral system, but it takes until exit polls indicate that they're going to lose big-time before the likes of Lord Voldemort and Piers "Morgan" Moron come out and say so. I don't which is worse: the incompetence of this shower of dunces or having to go on record that Moron and I agree on something.

    (Exit, pursued by a Bloke waving a Conservative Party membership application form)

  23. LPF
    FAIL

    Oh this again....

    Considering the fact that you comment on the IT industry, how you can bring up the failed, "Why don't we vote over the Internet?" argument is astonishing!

    The reason we don't is because quite simple, knowing that the government of a country could be decided by electronic votes, would present a huge target for both a corporation or more likely a foreign government to find a way to defeat its security and affect the results.

    Any current encryption system can be defeated if sufficient resources are thrown at it. The Banks lose millions every year, but hush it up rather than publish what happened, to protect confidence in their institutions, and their encryption is pretty much the best going commercially.

    India has a billions people and manages to hold elections using paper, it has nothing to do with using the NET or not, they simple failed to anticipate how many people wanted to vote and instead of being sensible and allowing the stations to stay open, they cut people off.

    Jobsworths are the bain of us all.

  24. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Stop

    Online voting

    OK, so you need to authenticate, possibly we should give everybody a physical means of identifying themselves (after all, numbers and ID strings can be copied), and mandate a way of electronically reading these securely on someone's own PC.

    So you are now supporting ID cards, with card readers, attached to PC's with trusted and supported operating systems with DRM built in - say Windows running either Vista or Windows 7. This is what the industry advisers who will be engaged by any government will say. Win for Microsoft and the PC makers, don't you think!

    What happens to people who can't or won't invest to do this? There will not be sufficient demand for polling stations, so would you install PC's in Post Offices or Libraries (oops, none of these left), or possibly Pubs (rapidly going the same way in small villages)? Will we have a underclass of people who can't vote because they live in the country and have limited transport options?

    I really don't think this is what you want.

  25. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Electronic voting - worst possible solution?

    At least we still use a tangible, reviewable system that holds a physical record of what voters expressed. It may take a bit of time (although overnight - not that much) and it might seem "old fashioned" to require actual paper, However, it instills a confidence in voters that their vote does, actually have a reality that pressing a button or clicking a website simply does not.

    The only real problem is that it's possible to determine which voter used which ballot paper, thereby creating a trail from person to their vote. While there's no evidence that this has (ever) been misused, it opens the possibility of some undesirables finding out who voted for which candidate.

  26. Alpha Tony
    FAIL

    Proportional representation

    I tend to agree that we need to look at PR as the first past the post system is not compatible with party politics.

    Either you should vote for a local person that actually does what he/she thinks is in the best interests of their constituents (and for this to happen you need to effectively neuter the party system and make the post of whip illegal) or you should vote for a party. If it is the latter we should have Proportional Representation so the number of seats obtained by a party actually reflects the number of people that voted for it.

    At the moment our system is undemocratic and not fit for purpose.

    1. Like Magic
      Grenade

      Look at the Bottom of the World

      Here in the colonies we have got it partly right with MMP, minority parties rule with supply and confidence agreements. This means the parties have to negioate with the other parties and limits how radical they can get.

      Maurice

      New Zealand

    2. Brutus
      Thumb Up

      Hear, hear!

      I've been trying to get this point across to my colleagues for weeks. They don't get it. But then I do work for a large bank, so democracy, honesty and integrity, aren't really words they've ever understood(or want to hear).

    3. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Well done!

      I have to say thats probably the best description of the current problem ive read so far. Well done!

      Its not that proportional representation is better, but the fact is that party politics means that the current system isnt working!

      In Aus, we have first-past-the-post constituent voting for the House of Representatives (equivalent to UK House of Commons) and proportional voting for the Senate (equivalent to UK House of Lords). This system seems to work pretty well. Maybe you need to start copying the colonies... ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Australia's not "first-past-the-post"

        There's a system of preferential voting, unless you count the post as being the 50% of all possible votes.

        http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/hor_count.htm

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      More Rats

      Might also help to make smaller constituencies so that one person can at least attempt to engage with the people that they are supposed to represent, and with most MPs representing 40,000 people it's a bit much to expect one person to even meet those people let alone know them well enough to represent their views. As things stand in order to consult every constituent an MP would need to meet 2000 people a week, every week, for four years.

      Of course with more MPs we also need to ensure they are kept busy in Parliament with purposeful jobs rather than letting them hang around until whipped in to the voting chambers, but that change is even more unlikely that voting reform.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    labour.. p*ss up in a brewery

    Cant even put an election together properly... just about sums up Labour's incompetence

    I quite enjoyed the 3mile round trip walk through bluebell filled woodland to the polling station, which just happened to be next to the village pub.. very handy

    1. /\/\j17
      FAIL

      Remove Head From Rectum Before Typing

      The Labour party is not in any way responsible for the planning, management or execution the general election. That duty falls to each local councils (unelected and apolitical) chief returning officer.

      This is a long standing and quite deliberate part of the British electoral system, ensuring that the running of the vote is separated from political interference.

      If issues were experienced in your ward then you should take them up with the returning officer and not try to use it as an excuse to try and express some partisan political opinion.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        sums it all up

        Consider :

        a public job

        easy , fixed rules eg voting STOPS at 10.00 pm prompt.

        almost five years to organise a single day, processes exactly as before.

        a known maximum quantity of participants, hell, they even provide a list.

        It seems almost too easy. It is.

        And yet public workers fuck it up, break the law in some instances ( allegedly ) and still keep their jobs for the next time around.

        Question for our antipodean commentards : room for one more ( million, i suspect ) voter?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Welcome

    Well

    if we reverted to the 'Divine Right of Kings', we wouldn't have all these problems and we would allways know who was ripping us off!

    They wouldn't need to fiddle their expenses either. We already pay for them so why should they not earn their living like the rest of us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      funny

      That's why I put a big 'X' through my entire paper and simply wrote "The Queen: democracy has failed".

  29. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the scope for error is huge"

    You're talking about Diebold voting machines now, aren't you ?

    Paper balloting is not perfect, just as about anything that humans are up to these days, but the traceability and indeed the very lack of technology ensures that the results are verifiable and accountable.

    Voting machines, such as the ones made by Diebold (who has since distanced itself as much as possible from the problem), are another problem entirely. To the various security issues that are purely hardware and software-based, you can add lack of traceability and the very possible ability to fudge results without any control.

    I prefer paper ballots any day.

  30. GrumpyJoe
    Flame

    Forget it

    It's either blind stupidity, the grey vote decided to vote for 'the least scary party' or tactical voting to force a hung parliament - despite that it's a wasted chance.

    I'm gearing up to get an immigrant visa to another country (not saying which one so you can't follow me) - I really can't stomach this one any more. How can I stay when I have little respect for the pitiful, cowardly, ignorant populace!

  31. irish donkey
    Thumb Up

    The Best Result

    Now we should get the best of all the Parties.

    ohhh-ohhh here comes the Credit Crunch............................

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voters

    Typical of the hapless lack of management from the last government. Oh well. Guess we end up with Gordon again, whooop whopppp lol

  33. rpjs

    Disagree

    The great thing about our manual polling system is that it's pretty difficult to fiddle. Yes, you could fiddle it, there a lots of ways, but most ways require a lot of warm bodies to help pull it off, and the more people up to no good, the more likely someone else will notice, or someone involved will blab.

    Voting online, you'd just be voting into the cloud. There's no transparency, and a whole lot of points where those with malicious intent can interfere. What's more, another good thing about the current system (admittedly diluted by the recent change to postal votes on demand) is that no-one can buy, unduly influence or extort your vote because *no-one can see who you voted for*. Voting online means that anyone in the room with you, whether your husband/wife, parent, church elder, boss, shop steward or party boss can see who you voted for.

    It's not perfect, and I suspect the problems this time have come about due to returning officers expecting a lower turnout than they got being caught out with not enough resources, but like democracy itself it remains the worst system apart from all the others.

  34. Tom 3
    FAIL

    Perhaps we should

    take it back

    http://www.takebackparliament.com/

  35. riccochet

    No voting card needed

    The voting card is not required to vote. It is useful to have it with you in case of confusion, and to check you are going to the correct polling station, but you only need to be on the electoral register, attend the designated polling station in the opening hours, and satisfy the election officials that you are who you claim you are.

  36. Tom Cooke

    Rubbish

    Total rubbish - look at the failure of many large-scale IT systems intended to interact with the public and/or hold and process key data on large numbers of individuals on behalf of public bodies.

    We need to learn an awful lot of lessons from our own failures and the difficulties with (for example) US automated polling, before we should dare to put this anywhere near the process we use for choosing our government.

    The real answer is to keep the manual systems and make sure competent and sensible people make robust plans and preparations to operate them. If people turn up at 1 minute to 10 at night to vote and legally they have to shut the doors, TOUGH - this is not a problem to be 'solved' by IT.

  37. riccochet

    Other irregularities

    Other irregularities recorded:

    - Running out of ballot papers

    - A sixteen year old voting (for foreign readers, the franchise begins at 18) and a nine year old being sent a polling card (but whose parents stopped them voting!)

  38. Thomas 4
    FAIL

    A real let down

    I was bitterly disappointed when I found out a hung parliment did not involve several hundred metres of rope.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Time for PR

    As of this minute, the Tories have 47% of the seats with 36% of the vote, Labour have 40% of the seats with 29% vote share and Lib Dems have 8% of the seats with 23% of the vote.

    Something is very rotten in our system here.

    Sort out PR, and bring in modern voting methods while they're at it. The current situation is a travesty of democracy.

  40. EvilGav 1

    Well . . .

    . . . given our incumbent government decided they had a mandate to govern having gained a lower percentage of the votes cast in 2005, I don't see that they can really argue the toss today.

    In a bizarre twist, the number of seats for each party looks likely to more closely match the number of votes cast for the first time in decades.

  41. Cynical Observer
    Unhappy

    Balance

    Take a look at Surrey as an example - a county of 9 constituencies that returned 9 Tory MP's

    Aggregate the vote for the 4 main parties in each constituency and you get

    Tory: 57%

    LibDem: 30%

    Lab: 9%

    UKIP:4.5%

    On a 9 seat constituency under STV, probably looking at Tory 5 / Lib 3/ Lab 1

    Make it a single constituency and you could easily reduce the number of MP's - no bad thing in and of itself. Say for argument sake, it was 7 MP's.

    Odds are you'd get Tory 5 / Lib 2 or Tory 4 / Lib 2 / Lab 1

    9 Tory MPs = Democracy my Arse !

  42. Chris Miller
    Stop

    Wrong

    "you must turn up at an appointed place [...] carrying a piece of paper". No.

    The piece of paper is intended to simplify the process of recording the fact that you have voted. If you don't have it, or forget it, you will need to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the local returning officer that you are who you say you are - in most cases (since personation is not normally a huge problem in British elections) giving an accurate name and address corresponding to those on the electoral register should suffice (though some form of ID would probably help).

    I suspect significant numbers turning up to vote at the last minute without their registration card may well be behind the (very limited) problems experienced this time round. If the local voting administrators are overwhelmed, it will be difficult to do much about it since (a) the homogeneity of constituencies suggests that there would be similar problems at other polling stations; and (b) although registering votes is not complex, staff who carry out this function have to have had suitable training - you can't just drag people in from the street or their homes (even if you can find anyone at 9pm).

    Voting electronically is a really bad idea. No matter how 'unbreakable' the identity system underlying it (and gummint has an abysmal track record in this area), there would be no way to establish what, if any, form of 'persuasion' was behind someone sitting at their home computer to vote.

    Even postal voting ought to be a last resort and should require justification (illness or disability, absence from the constituency). Labour opted to extend postal voting (the cynical might suggest this was because they thought it would help boost their own vote) - and the results have been pretty significant abuse, albeit confined to a few areas.

  43. Spiracle
    FAIL

    The underlying problem...

    ... is that we're not two nations any more (and haven't been for some time) but the electoral system has no way of adequately reflecting this.

  44. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Sorry but i cant disagree more!

    Im sorry but you seem to be implying that the use of electronic medium to do the voting should be the way forward - may i be the first to direct your attention to the US, Florida a few years back perhaps?

    I will never trust an electronic voting machine or voting over the internet to not be tampered with behind the scenes, so im sorry if you have a beef with good ol trusty paper voting but im more then happy with this method. At least a recount can take place with paper. How do you recount electronic hits?

    Agreed there are problems. Having an election on a working day is pretty ridiculous. And having a set closing time when there is still a large line of would be voters equally ridiculous. Postal voting needs to be confined to the rubbish bins of history for everyone except those overseas (and even then it should require some sort of visit to the local embassy to obtain the correct paraphenalia).

    But i will never agree with the use of electronics to count my vote. I'll take the pencil and paper every time!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    @ Sir Runcible Spoon

    Typical fuckwit response. Do you actually THINK about what crap you spout?

    Everyone knows the tories support the RICH.

    The Wbankers are responsible for bringing the national debt to our door. These same Wbankers are CONVERSATIVES!!!!

    Eh, DURRR

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      FAIL

      Sir

      +1 for replying to my post without using the 'reply to this post button'

      +1 for missing the troll icon

      +1 for missing the point that I might actually BE rich

      +1 for assuming I voted tory

      -1 to me if this is a trolling the troll post.

      Overall, I think that, in real terms, I win this round :P

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Bankrupt Morality

        More of the obvious!

        I dont need to tell you how dim your views are.

        You've done a pretty good job of that yourself.

        +1 -1?? = clearly were dealing with an infant. "I win this round", fuck me, you may as well have said NUR NUR NA NUR NUR! And the fuckin infant gets a vote!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      @ Obviously! - Your post suggest Labour support the Poor

      The Poor old bankers and poor old Media Companies and Poor old Lord of Darkness Mandy.

      Epic fail as you couldn't see past your own traditional vote to do something different. Like the 8,330,023 fools that think Labour are better than all the the rest.

      The Labour Party we have now is not the Labour Party of the Working Man or the Poor!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Bleet Bleet Bleet

        you couldn't see past your own traditional vote to do something different. Like the 8,330,023 fools that think Labour are better than all the the rest.

        The Labour Party we have now is not the Labour Party of the Working Man or the Poor!

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, another one that thinks of theselves when posting.

        Clearly I'm far more forward thinking than the USUAL spout!

        I don't think that labour are better than the rest, nothing I said could give that impression! Explain how you reached that conclusion.

        OH I already know - Assumption, thats how. How can any one believe what you say if you base your beliefs on assumptions?

        HELLO WAKEY WAKEY.

        Democracy DOESNT work. If it did, we wouldn't have a hung parliament. And would wpouldn't be living in a country full of those whom are moraly bunkrupt.

    3. some vaguely opinionated bloke
      Troll

      Phew

      "These same Wbankers are CONVERSATIVES!!!!"

      Thanks for clarifying that - for a moment there I thought they were Conservatives...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coffee/keyboard

        opinions ARE vague

        so what??

        your not the only person to knock my typing errors.

        it's a bit weak tho isn't it, really. No REALLY it is!!

        your arguments and beliefs are soo strong all you can do is chip away at the typos.

        come on! at least respond to the points and not silly typo's (which are about as relevant as your view)

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon
          Troll

          Sir

          Ok, I'll feed the troll.

          In fact, I will respond to your points rather than point out any personal failings you might have.

          "Typical fuckwit response. Do you actually THINK about what crap you spout?"

          Yes, briefly.

          "Everyone knows the tories support the RICH."

          And your point is? It is people with money who create the wealth. Or are you suggesting that the tories should support the poor and run up a massive national debt in the process? Tories support a system, they rely on people within the system to create wealth/jobs etc. The Labour party seem to think they can just legislate themselves out of trouble and to hell with the system.

          "The Wbankers are responsible for bringing the national debt to our door. These same Wbankers are CONVERSATIVES!!!!"

          The 'Wbankers' are responsible for bringing the global economy to its knees. They don't have direct access to the treasury coffers that I'm aware of - that would be the LABOUR party, who, last time I looked, weren't Conservative, or conversationalists or even conservationists.

          "Eh, DURRR"

          NUR NUR NA NUR.

          I'm sticking with the troll icon because I'm naive enough to believe that no-one is really that stupid, but then I've been wrong before.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise...

    ..Polling staff come almost exclusively from local govt (they're paid twice to do the job) - from town halls increasingly populated by jobsworths who couldn't organise a boozeup in a brewery.

    Hardly to be wondered that our electoral processes would be better suited to East Africa or Afghanistan...

  47. Code Monkey

    Nice idea but...

    It'll take a Large UK Govt IT Project to implement it and we all know how well they turn out.

    Speaking as a developer it'd be a wet dream to write such a system. Speaking as a taxpayer the project would be a shambles to rival the one in Hackney, etc. last night.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm

    Because online polls cant be faked at all.......

    Gotta blame the councils for the trouble voting, here in Hammersmith it was a breeze, with polling stations seemingly every 100m. Oh, and you don't need your polling card, if you can prove who you are and where you live.

    Though you do have to wonder why people waited till the last possible minute...?

  49. Estariel
    FAIL

    Election Irregularity

    The paper manual process may be clunky, but apart from the proxy/postal part, its also hard to abuse. Unlike the computerised US equivalent......Diebold anyone?

    You want a website for voting? So if you can hack that website, you get to run your own nuclear-armed country to play with?

    Tory minority government isnt nearly as good as a third of the >>electorate<<. More like a third of those who voted. Once we note that 30%+ of people didnt vote, then Cameron hope to rule on the basis of less than a quarter of the electorate having actually voted for his team. Hardly a mandate.....

  50. Greg J Preece

    Proportional Representation Required

    It's an absolute disgrace that a party can receive 22% of the vote and such a relatively small amount of actual representation in parliament, due in part to the corruption of the system over the past century or so by the two main parties. The system needs to be changed, but will those parties with a vested interest in keeping the status quo bother?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    voting mechanics

    (Shouldn't this be two articles - one for the mechanics of placing your vote, another about first past the post?)

    Has the current system been "thoroughly discredited"? Who's saying that?

    To give you a feel for what a "thoroughly discredited" system would be like, give your web voting idea a go.

    I've voted in four different areas over the years and never used a "dingy" polling station. Even if it's not a palace, so what? They're not exactly crack dens. Registering to vote is fairly painless. Remembering to take your card isn't difficult. Forgetting to take your card isn't a problem*, it just helps speed things up.

    *Granted: some polling stations need to be better at handling hundreds of people turning up without cards - bleedin' students!

    There were problems last night in a small number of polling stations. Very bad but it seems likely this is fixable with better admin of the existing process. However, the good thing about physical voting is that it is all very open. Everyone could see what the problems were with their own eyes. Even though they weren't happy they could at least see what was going on and express their displeasure in plain english, face to face with a real person. Simplicity and transparency is good. There's no mystery about a cross on paper stuffed in a box.

    Postal voting seems to come hand in hand with irregularities though. This needs looking at.

  52. /\/\j17

    The Voting System Is Broken?

    I fail to see what's wrong with the voting system it's self.

    Yes, it's a manual process meaning you have to get off your fat ass and go to the polling station (in a 15 hour window) but it does offer a fool-proof system for recording votes that can be archived and, if necessary re-counted from the source data for 6 months after the date of the election.

    Electronic voting system don't offer this physical link between voter and vote, nor do they ensure the independence of the voter. At a polling station only one person is permitted to enter the voting booth and the officials, with the help of the attending police office if necessary should prevent anyone contacting a voter between booth and ballet box.

    Of course you could come back by listing all the 100% safe and successful electronic voting systems...or would it just be a list of failures and legal challenges from the US?

  53. Cantab
    FAIL

    A third of the popular vote maybe!

    "We suspect rather less will be heard about the legitimacy of forming a government with the ringing endorsement of just over a third of the electorate."

    And which third would that be? T,urn out is at best 70% of which the tories have 36%, looks like 25% of the electorate to me!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Indeed...

      ...which is why 30% of the population with no reasonable excuse should now be facing charges/fines. I am sorry, but people who cannot be bothered to vote disgust me. If they can't be bothered to take part in a democracy, perhaps they should move to a totalitarian dictatorship; it's what they seem to prefer.

      As for FPtP, that annoys me too. LibDems get 23-ish% and 50-ish seats. Labs only get 29-ish% but 250-ish seats. 5 times the voice for only 7% more? How is that fair in any terms? We have a 2 party state and both those parties are corrupt to the core.

      Perhaps if the feckless wasters who sat on their cholesterol filled arses actually went and voted we could change this system. But not, they prefer to sit about and moan about "no choice". Well there is not choice you idiots because you're not making one or not trying to offer an alternative yourself. Put up, shut up or leave.

      1. Woodgar
        Headmaster

        re: Indeed

        Maybe those that didn't vote stayed at home instead simply because they already knew voting would be a waste of time and that their vote was worthless and irrelevent?

        I voted, as I always do, but I know full well that I can have no affect on the outcome, either locally or nationally. I live in a *very* safe seat, and the rulling party in my constituancy have held it for over sixty years, and have pretty much won every time here since it's inception in 1885.

        The rest of your post points out the problem quite clearly; If thirty percent of the population are given no ability to change the outcome and know in advance that their opinion and vote will be totally ignored, you can hardly get upset if they don't go out and cast their vote in the first place.

      2. CD001

        fneh

        You really, really believe that it makes ANY difference whatsoever WHO gets in power? Really?

        I'll give you a hint, as far as most people are concerned the only difference between Labour and The Tories is that there are more buses running under Labour... that's pretty much it.

        Besides, the vast majority of the vote seems to come down to 2 types of people.

        1: Those people who vote for the given party because they've always voted for that party, their parents voted for that party and their grandparents before them... and so on.

        2: Those people who don't vote for a particular party but vote AGAINST the ruling party because they want to get rid of them - if it's red, they'll vote blue and vice versa.

        A teeeeeeeeny, weeeeny minority might actually vote on candidates based on merit or on believing in the party manifesto - so if you don't live in a smaller marginal constituency there's no point in voting whatsoever if you're going against the flow.

        I fully understand why people don't vote - and I agree with them. The only way to really register a protest however is to spoil your ballot paper - it still has to be counted then.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    Voting in an electronic society

    Electronic voting sounds like the pill to end all ills, but a "unique voter ID", sounds too much like the much unwanted National ID card. Not to mention the problems from potential vote tampering and fraud. All leading to the horror of Election 2015 powered by GoogleVote, with the added benefit of targeted marketing tailored searches.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    HAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

    The fact people "lost out" casting their vote just proves how STUPID a lagre portion of this country are!

    What, like you've never had any opportunity to cast a vote?? IDIOTS!

    On polling day, you had 10+ hours, and had a chance to postal vote DAYS before.

    The reality is, we don't need these fuckwits opinions! If they can't even vote, what chance do theyre KIDS have?

    1. The BigYin

      I guess...

      ...there a chance that can spell "their"? Just sayin'. :o)

      I agree with the sentiment though, loads of time to vote. No excuse really. People expect to be spoon-fed these days.

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Missing something, something REALLY BIG

        But saying people have 10 hours is fucking rediculous. Some of us actually have real jobs- I'd love to have been able to cast my vote before work and get it out the way but the polling stations don't open until I actually set off for work.

        Sorry, that's why I registered for postal voting.

        When you posted this comment, did you not think that I too work? That I too would find it problematic to vote on the day?

        Pass the spoon, oh and the bog paper. I'll do that for you too, eh?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        I'm crying rivers for you

        your attacking me spellin. We live in TXT speak world and all you can come back with is this drivvvvel.

        Ahhhh, touchy touchy.

        But don't cry over criticism of your lack to ability to simply turn up at a polling station to sign ya name.

        What, your lifes soooo important? HA!

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: I'm crying rivers for you

          Don't try and excuse your indolence by suggesting that this is the world we live in now. Not here it ain't, sunshine. Behave and buck up. Any more of this rudeness and idiocy and I'll nix all your comments the rest of the afternoon.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Grenade

            How RUDE ;)

            "sunshine"

            Sun BEAM I'll have you know!

            :)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Question for you

            Did you miss out in voting too?.......

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "What, your lifes soooo important? HA!"

          Looking afer kids? Earning a wage? Comes befor voteing i'm affraid.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        @Idiot

        Well if you know you may have trouble on the day due to your so-important-I-don't-have-time-to-do-my-duty job, then do a postal vote. Still no excuse.

        You Sir/Madam are the idiot.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        time poor EH ? dont mek me larf!!!!

        for a people with such time preasures , you don't half right long comments.

        and for the stupid of arithmetic, was your Poll station not open for the legally allowed period of 15 hours.

        seriously, after almost 5 years notis you expect to turn up at 9.59pm

        regards

        Hazel Jacqui Blears Balls-Up

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The words nobody wants to hear

    >The government is going to look at this. It may be that the law needs to change.

    Clearly any new law will ensure that in order to vote you will need to have passed an eCRB check, have an ID card and have had the decision making part of your brain removed. The latter will not be compulsory as there will likely only be on check box on the ballot paper just so you don't make the wrong choice.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    As somebody that worked in an election software company for two years, electronic voting is the surest way for voter fraud on a massive scale. Never! Love them paper ballots...

  58. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    What utter rubbish

    1) No system will give a majority outcome all the time, unless you have a US system where there is only 2 choices. So what if only 36% voted for for the torys. By my count they are likely to get about 45% of the seats, so not too bad. At least they have the largest share of votes and seats.

    2) An E voteing system? You must be jokeing. That would be the dumbest idea ever. Look what happend in the US with only a part E system. Voteing at home would be even more open to fraud, and you can be sure that it would come under DDoS attack.

    3) Legal chalenge? Possibly, but unlikely. The returning officers may have problems with the lack of ballot papers, but for the polling stations closeing, or not, on time? Unlikely. The returning officer is god in these choices.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Paul 4

        I don't think the system is right

        But I don't think it is as bad as people are saying. It is much better than the last election, where the party with the most votes did not win. I do think we need a better system. Not PR, but something else.

        The problem is our system dates from pre party days, when your MP was your reprasentative, which is why I voted independant.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        not working today?

        not Jacqui are you?

  59. Paul_Murphy

    Where to start?

    What IS the best system of voting?

    Boundary changes determine the mix of people in each area - as far as I am aware the boundary is changed by the in-power government, and I doubt they are changed arbitarily, so they will always reflect the best results for that party.

    Why do we need boundaries anyway? maybe using post codes might be a better bet?

    First past the post? how is that useful? how about just counting the votes?

    Apparantly the constituency that the house speaker is in is not challenged by the other main parties - how is that fair on the voters in that area? they simply cannot vote for anyone else? I would suggest that the speaker cannot be an MP, since as a speaker they need to be independant of any party. I cannot see the rationale of them standing in an election - in fact wouldn't a professional speaker (ie as a paid seperate post) be a better idea?

    Paper - well I must say that of the various ways of doing things having a physical bit of paper may be archaic, but far less prone to tampering than any electronic system could be (well until we all get our ID cards/Barcodes on our forearm/implanted chip anyway) and more straight forward to check on later.

    Postal votes and sending out the registration forms via the post? well I suppose it's got to be done somehow, and couriers would be too expensive, but there must be a better way. The problem with that of course is that it's got to deal with people with no computer, so email and websites are out of the question, who are out of the country (soldiers etc.) or have emigrated (why are they even allowed to vote in this country if they have left it I wonder?) and so on.

    All in all it's developed mess - there is no simple answer and though there are many ways of making things better we can hardly go around changing things arbitarily.

    ttfn

  60. Magnus_Pym

    Look wht would happen if we had PR now

    You can see just how thin a grip on power the two main parties have.

    Current % PR

    Conservative 290 36.10% 222

    Labour 247 29.20% 180

    Liberal Democrat 51 22.90% 141

    Democratic Ulster Party 8 0.60% 4

    Scottish Nationalist Party 6 1.70% 10

    Sinn Fein 4 0.50% 3

    Plaid Cymru 3 0.60% 4

    SDLP 3 0.40% 2

    Green Party 1 0.90% 6

    Alliance Party 1 0.20% 1

    UK Independence Party 0 3.10% 19

    Brittish National Party 0 1.90% 12

    Ulster Conservatives 0 0.40% 2

    English Democrats 0 0.10% 1

    Traditional Unionist Voice 0 0.10% 1

    Respect-Unity Coalition 0 0.10% 1

    Christian Party 0 0.10% 1

    Independent Community 0 0.10% 1

    Trade Unionist 0 0.00% 0

    Scottish Socialist Party 0 0.00% 0

    Others 1 1.00% 6

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      Although I'm in favour of some form of PR, how would those PR seats be allocated?

      We don't actually vote for our government, we vote for a local MP who represents us in parliament. If the person I voted for won locally, but was disposessed in favour of another party MP because their party won more of the popular vote nationally, then I would probably be pretty pissed off.

      PR has it's problems too.

      1. Cynical Observer

        Single Transferable Vote

        One of the arguments offered in opposition to STV is the "Loss of local connection" With a multi seat constituency, this does not happen - at least no more so than the current parachute candidates that we get today.

        In fact STV allows me to select those personalities that best look after the area - blurring the party political lines. I can pick the best local reps, order them by party and then go on to follow party lines thereafter - or any permutation that you might dream up.

        Part List PR is an abomination - the refuge of party hacks who have been already rejected at another constituency.

        Personally, I'm in favour of mandating that a candidate must have lived in the constituency (main residence, full council tax paid) for at least 12 months prior to the election. That will rid us of many a party hack!

      2. /\/\j17

        Just Ask

        How do you allocate seats under PR?

        How about asking:

        Austria

        Belgium

        Denmark

        Finland

        Germany

        Iceland

        Ireland

        Japan

        New Zealand

        Netherlands

        Norway

        Portugal

        Scotland

        Spain

        Sweden

        or Switzerland

        ...as a starting point.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          However

          Japan does have a notoriously corrupt two-party system - so we don't want to consider their way of doing it.

          Italy used to have PR and it was a byword for an effective parliamentary system wasn't it?

        2. Andy Dent 2
          Big Brother

          Ask Australia

          We too have PR although it doesn't get us better politicians.

      3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      4. Magnus_Pym
        Stop

        No No No No No.

        "we vote for a local MP who represents us in parliament."

        We should, but we don't.

        We vote for someone to represent us in parliament who has already, prior to standing for election, given their word that they will do whatever the party tells them to do. Without a party they cannot get elected with a party they may as well not bother. They do not represent us, they are simply part of a block vote for the party machine. It is the party we vote for. whatever we might think we are doing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Go

          Ban Political Parties

          "We vote for someone to represent us in parliament who has already, prior to standing for election, given their word that they will do whatever the party tells them to do."

          Which is precisely why political parties should all be banned. They interfere with the political process to the detriment of the electorate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That assumes

      People would vote the same under PR.

      You might get more people voting for the BNP (currently twice as popular as the Greens) once they have a second choice.

    3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      How is that divided?

      Is that broken down into electorates per county, electoral region, country, or simply not at all?

    4. Chris Miller
      FAIL

      So you'd prefer a system

      in which the BNP the Greens and UKIP hold the balance of power? You, sir, FAIL.

      1. Cynical Observer

        Democracy

        @ Chris Miller.

        This sir is the price of democracy.

        Full disclosure - I was not born in the UK, I think that a strong EU is a good thing and I crave full and open examination of the scientific evidence offered in support of Global warming. So I have no affinity with any of the aforementioned parties.

        BUT - If those parties offer themselves for election and are chosen in sufficient quantity by the electorate then they have aright to attend parliament as a duly elected MP. Organising an electoral system to deliberately disenfranchise voters of a particular persuasion starts this country on a slippery slope that is best avoided. (What next? Ban Ginger headed people form voting? As they seem to be the only minority that we can pick on today without fear of censure!)

        Do you have so little faith in the major parties as to believe that they will compromise their principles and for example yield to BNP demands in order to hang onto the reigns of power! For if they were to do so, are they not as morally bankrupt as the BNP itself?

        Time for real change!

        1. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

          @ Cynical Observer / @ @ Chris Miller

          Reluctant as I am to wade in on this already busy thread, it's not.

          PR systems that use MMP have a lower threshold where a party needs to get X% to be represented - NZ was 5% from memory, or in that order. STV systems don't have this issue as the votes transfer to candidates that are more "generally acceptable".

          Having seen both in action I think STV is a better system, mainly as it requires less MPs :-)

          @ Chris, if this weren't the case you'd be correct. Israel, notoriously, has no lower limit set in it's constitution, which is why it's political system is always being held to ransom by single issue groups.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So you'd prefer a system

        "in which the BNP the Greens and UKIP hold the balance of power?"

        According to the percentages, any two of the big three could command a majority. You, "sir", hold the *balance* of FAIL.

        And yes, there are countries where minor parties get into coalitions and start to make demands in order to uphold the deal, but in fact there isn't even a necessity to make deals in some of these systems of representation: you can have a minority government if you think you'll get support on a vote-by-vote basis. The trouble is, various parties tend to get petulant and vote stuff down that they actually agree with in order to spite the minority government, mostly because they couldn't form a coalition and have a larger party accept some special interest cause or other.

        Oh, and when you mention pandering to minor parties, I guess you're just not old enough to recall the last days of the Major government and the Unionist parties propping up the Tories. Again, the balance of FAIL returns to haunt you.

      3. Matt_V
        Stop

        Me personally?

        No, but if that's what the majority of the electorate want..... we are after all living in a democracy (supposedly!)

    5. Chris Miller

      Why PR gives power to bigots (to borrow an adjective)

      It's true that many PR systems (but by no means all) set a lower bar to keep the loonies out of power (the German* system is 5% or 3 constituency 'wins'). But look at the numbers kindly provided by Magnus: UKIP 3%, BNP 2% and Greens 1%. Yet this is on the basis of their having contested only a minority of seats (~200 for the BNP) - under the FPTP system there's no point in them going for every seat, including those where they don't have a hope. Under a PR system** they'd contest every seat and there's every chance that one or more would exceed the lower limit.

      Now look at the numbers of seats that the main parties would have under a PR system. The only two-party coalition commanding an absolute majority would be Labour and Conservative (how likely is that?) or Liberal-Conservative (which looks to be where we're heading anyway). But this is a very even result compared to most recent UK elections (admittedly having PR in place would doubtless have altered those results), but I remain convinced that the most likely outcome of a PR election is the biggest party picking up a few loonies to give them a majority, rather than teaming up with the natural opposition, which is why I believe that there's a large chunk of fail involved in PR.

      *Deliberately set high to keep the neo-Nazis out. If they ever look like getting more than 5% of the vote, look to this system to change, sharpish.

      **Actually there are hundreds of PR systems, and which one might be offered to the electorate in a referendum would be a lively debate.

  61. Richard 81
    Thumb Down

    What a mess

    Britain basically bottles it and votes the Lizardmen into being the biggest non-majority.

    Lib Dem have LESS power than they started with, despite their (supposed) increase in popularity. Bloody fair weather voters.

    Apparently polling stations have been complaining that students are to blame for the queue fiasco. One polling station (that I know of) even tried to segregate them by forming a separate queue for locals.

    The one I went to was just staffed by two orange slappers who couldn't give two s**ts about the electorate. The very fact that I'd entered the building an given them something to do, other than chat, meant they despised me.

    If anyone suggest I'm a 'Libtard' and just bitter... YES I BLOODY AM.

    I need a cup of tea.

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Bloody fair weather voters.

      It the corruption of the FPTP system that means people won't vote for their favourite in case it lets their bitter enemy in.

  62. Magnus_Pym

    Damn you Register...

    ...and you de-tabulating forum text controls. It looked quite nice in the edit box.

    Still the point is that Labour and The Conservatives get enormously more power out of the first past the post system and the border reforms they have both introduced over the years than the voters actually give them.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Rubbish.

    "Near riot" in some of our city centres? I'd like to see your source for that claim. Many (rightly-so) angry people at a number of places but that hardly justifies calling a "near riot".

    You question why we don't all visit a website to vote? Perhaps because many people haven't sussed computing/Internet and/or don't have easy access to a computer.

    "You must turn up... carrying a piece of paper...proclaiming your right to vote"? Have you ever participated in a UK election? There is no requirement to turn up with any such piece of paper.

    "Failure to arrive on time will see you barred from voting"? Oh right because it's still possible to vote in the 2005 election is it? Or perhaps it's kind of good to have a time by which you have to vote?

    What on earth does "reliance on physical processes" mean? Physical processes as opposed to...virtual ones? If what you mean is relying on paper and manual counting... well there are many articles on ElReg criticising the processes in other countries (and this one) which rely on electronic measures for either voting itself or counting votes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Physical trail required

      I agree strongly that a physical vote be made that is independently auditable.

      It is naive to believe that the process of voting electronically is not corruptible. But once the electronic vote has been (competently) corrupted, there is no way to tell that it has been as there is no physical trace.

      An hour of "inconvenience" every several years is a very small price to pay for democracy. Of course, you don't get it if you only spend that hour on it. It's then just lip-service; a pretence.

      Democracy requires that you give your MP hell when they vote the "wrong" way in Parliament. They need to be fearful ofhow voters will react, not just during elections, but every day that they are in office.

      Paris; because that's how democracies "work".

  64. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Here I was, sitting on my crack...

    ...thinking that the UK had tossed out its antiquated and ridiculously unrepresentative first-past-the-post electoral system years ago.

    Shows how much I know. Why the hell haven't you guys switched to either an instant runoff system, or better still proportional representation yet?

  65. Sillyfellow
    Alert

    We demand a new election!

    We demand a new election!

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=124343844246075

    just seen this. don't know yet of any other similar outcries/petitions..

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Sillyfellow

      See http://www.takebackparliament.com/ for more details.

      Over 1000 people turned up to urge Nick Clegg not to compromise in his talks with the Tories but to stick to his guns in order to get a fair system of PR instead of an unfair system of FPTP.

  66. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    We don't have PR because up to now the existing system has suited every government.

    Labour made a belated move towards PR shortly before the election, and they may be interested now, because they don't look like getting popular again any time soon. And it's what the Liberals are all about. This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So expect a Conservative-Liberal deal and no change in the next fifty years.

    You can intimidate the more vulnerable and less intelligent voters in the system we've got. Or just send somebody else to the polling station pretending to be them.

    As for electronic voting, which can still be done in the schools and public libraries (not so dingy either), machines that count votes aren't adequate, whatever coonting machine manufacturers tell you. Each vote should be an electronic document in itself, signed and encrypted. I should be able to take my vote home and prove to my satisfaction that it is my vote and has been counted. Counters should be able to read the vote and who it is for but not that it is mine. Oh, and it needs to be blind/deaf/otherwise accessible.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Voting for a party?

    Excuse me but we vote for a person. Political parties are fundamentally undemocratic as they reduce the choice available.

    1. Graham Marsden
      WTF?

      Who do we vote for?

      The job of an MP is supposedly to represent the views of their constitutents to Parliament.

      Unfortunately what we actually get is someone who, most likely, does what the Party Whip tells them to do and then says to their constituents "This is what the Party Leadership says, like it or lump it".

  68. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Headmaster

    That 15 hour of voting opportunity

    Seems a lot, but not in practice. For those in employment it's vote before or after work and most cannot afford to hit morning delays and be late for work so it means voting after work.

    You get home at 18:00-19:00, drag yourself down the polling station with just a 3-4 hour window. If the queues are really bad ( they weren't this time ) then you lose out. Maybe people did leave it until later, until too late, but we don't have a history of two hour plus queues at voting.

    The best solution is to make general election day a public holiday.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Disenfranchised Moi?

    According to the BBC Election Results page (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/results/), with results from 27 seats still outstanding, the results are this: Conservatives got 36.1% of the votes to control 45.2% of parliament, Labour got 29.2% of the votes to control 38.6% of parliament, and the Liberal Democrats got 22.9% of the votes, but will control just 8% of parliament ... In what way does that represent what the people voted for?

    1. Ross 7

      Misunderstood

      FPtP is used because YOU ARE NOT VOTING TO CHOOSE THE GOVERNMENT!!!!!1111!!! People really need to understand that. Ofc you can choose to use your vote as if you were voting for to choose the government, but that's not what is intended and so you don't get the intended effect from your vote.

      You vote for YOUR MP to represent your needs in Parliament. The fact that the political party with the most representatives happens to form a government is really a seperate issue. You don't need to worry about such details generally as it really doesn't matter, until that is you're deciding on an electoral system.

      PR is about electing a national government. So, you have to decide between someone that will (hopefully) support you and your local area, and some party that will (hopefully) support your country. The problem with PR is that the wannabe MPs don't worry about annoying the locals, whereas an MP elected under FPtP can't afford to ****-off his/her constituents as they'll be out of a job.

      I like some aspects of both tbh, and issues with both. You should be aware however that the ppl pushing PR aren't doing so to help you in your daily life. They're doing so to increase their own power base. Same for those pushing to keep FPtP too.

      1. Chad H.
        Stop

        and of course...

        Those pushing against PR are currently the big winners in a system thats gerrymadered so much to ensure that either the Labour Party, or Conservatives, sit at the top (if not run outright) any government.

        There's a simple way to ensure that elected folk are representative... Big regions (maybe the size of an ITV franchise) with a number of seats based on population, elected PR/AV.

      2. Magnus_Pym

        We all know that already...

        The problem with FPtP is that an MP elected under FPtP can't afford to ****-off his/her unelected local party officials as they'll be out of a job.

        There fixed that for you.

        and yes, Iwe know how it is supposed to work. If it wasn't for the party whips, it might have some chance of working too. The MP's can't represent both constituency and party so they stick with the party as that is where the power comes from.

  70. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Pint

    Not me!

    I postal voted 6 days before polling day, took about 5 mins, including wandering down the post box on a sunny Saturday afternoon! Stuff that, I haven't got time to get to the local junior school and spend 20 mins nattering to some old bid.

    Better place to be! ( See chosen icon! )

  71. aelfheld

    That's surprising

    The British nanny state still allows y'all to vote?

  72. BorkedAgain

    Anecdotal, but...

    I know a number of people who WANTED to vote Lib Dem but, being in a seat where the choice was between Labour or Tory, decided to vote Labour as the lesser of two evils.

    Leaving aside for the time being the fascinating question of which of those two evils really is the lesser, proportional representation would have made the vote they wanted to cast count more, so they'd have been more likely to vote with their conscience instead of having to adopt a more tactical approach.

    Or, to put it another way, the percentage of the Lib Dem vote was artificially low (by a minimum of two votes) because of the inherent unfairness of our FPtP system. It's a disgrace, but while the power keeps being passed between the two sides that the system is biased towards, it's unrealistic to hope for any change.

    Perhaps now, with the power in the balance and Clegg's thumb on the scales, we may see some movement... *dreams...*

    (I'm not scared of a coalition government. Look what a strong majority brought for the last few cycles...)

  73. Peter Snow

    No to Electronic Voting

    The author (Jane Ozimek) appears to be favouring an electronic voting system. I would like to explain why I'm against that.

    1) Any system has to be administered by at least somebody, if not somebodies. In order to administer such a system, these people need to have access to it, by means of some kind of authentication. If someone has access to it, it can never be declared as 'secure'. It can always be tampered with and the administrator can then edit the logs to remove his traces. Hi tech is an advantage most of the time, but in an instance like this, 'low-tech' is the solution.

    2) The existing system, despite an outrageous failure on this occasion is not significantly broken. It needs some minor adjustments to ensure that elections return to the smoothness that the British electorate have grown to expect.

    It should be noted that this system has served the country well for many years and has gained Great Britain a good reputation world wide, for it's smooth elections.

    The minor adjustments that I mentioned above, I would suggest include a flexible closure time for the Polling Stations, where they are required to remain open until 10PM or after there has been no voter for at least 5 minutes, whichever is later.

    As I see it, this simple rule above could be implemented at a moments notice without any expense or disruption to the existing system and would have solved all of the problems experienced in this election.

    An electronic election system would probably cost millions of pounds investment, take many years of planning, be open to corruption and even after all of that, look whats happening here in the Philippines as they try to implement their first ever electronic general election on May 10. I'll be amazed if the Philippine election is not declared a failure (that's if it still goes ahead at all on the day planned a year ago)!

  74. Allan George Dyer
    Coat

    Intimidation and bribery

    In addition to agreeing with everyone who pointed out the dangers of electronic voting without a voter-verifiable paper trail, requiring voters to turn up at a designated, secure location and cast their votes in secret greatly reduces the possibility of vote-buying and coercion. You can always walk out of the booth and SAY that you voted as directed.

    Of course, camera-phones are a threat to this, perhaps we should have Faraday cage voting booths?

    Plus, it gives a lot of kids a day off school, thus encouraging interest in the democratic process.

    Mine's the one with ballot papers stuffed in the pockets.

  75. Gordon861

    PR Hybrid

    The system I'd like to see would double the size of the current constituances so we'd have half the MPs, and continue to run these posts using the current voting system. So that would be 325 local MPs.

    Then run the other 325 MPs via a pure PR system. The MPs from the list could still be assigned constituances to look by their party, so some areas would have more than one MP people could go to for help.

    This way you could still vote for a 'local MP' but you could also vote for a National Party that you prefer, often not the same when you have a good local MP. It would also give the more popular parties a chance to still get a pure majority in Parliment.

    I would also add the prison population as a single constituancy with one MP to solve the problem with them not being able to vote.

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