An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Wednesday, June 16, 2004  

Electoral registers

An update on this: I did suspect and have just had it confirmed that in addition to the personation agent's marked register, candidates are also entitled to get the polling clerk's register (i.e. the officially marked one) to see who voted. They have to sign something to say they won't use it for malevolent purposes but that's about the only restriction.
Feedback from throughout the country confirms that unsuspecting voters and non-voters are being confronted for their treachery. Also some info on polling stations where inattentive polling clerks failed to stamp ballot papers resulting in some spoiled ballots (5 no. 1's for my father were ditched for this reason). I always check each of my ballots to make sure they've been stamped.
In conference with the family we agree that prior to the next election we should write to voters in the area urging them to:
- ensure their papers are stamped
- turn up in plenty of time (some were turned away when they got in at the last minute)
- write nothing on the ballot paper except for their votes. Some people are under the impression that if they vote 1, 2, 3 as normal but write "Michael McDowell is a fascist wanker" on their paper that the vote will count as there is a clear preference. However, this vote is in fact spoiled since a distinguishing mark has been made on the paper which could be used to identify it in a case of voter intimidation. Since nothing must threaten the secrecy of the ballot (which to be fair we have already demonstrated is pretty shaky anyway) the vote is spoiled.
- Vote, 1,2,3 not x, x, x, (amazing the number of people who still do this; altho' one x does count since there is a clear preference).
- Finally it is so important to vote pretty far down the line, only leaving out the person you definitely don't want in. In my father's case, a traditional FF voter might vote 1,2,3 only for FF candidates and leave it at that. But when those votes have been counted and a surplus remains to be distributed that voter might prefer that anyone but a Sinn Feiner (or Green or single issue protest Independent type) be elected. Therefore they should continue voting 4, 5, and 6 for FG, Labour candidates. In our case, the Da was elected with 7's and 8's. The worst vote is a 1 for either a popular candidate or a total loser. Without further preferences that vote is binned after the first count while others get to see their vote re-used several times.

A final word on PR by STV. Think how different the US administration would be if all the liberal fools who voted for Nader could have availed of PR? Nader would be eliminated and his no. 2's would have gone to Gore and secured him election. As it is, while no one is entitled to a vote, the first past the post people are faced with a stark choice -compromise or lose heavily. Which they did in '00. Hopefully they will have learned their lesson.

posted by Sarah | 16:28 0 comments
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