View Full Version : Secret ballot? I don't think so

Don D Cake
8th Jun 2001, 18:16
In the election before this one, I voted Conservative and my wife voted Labour. Is it just a coicidence that I received personally addressed election rhetoric only from the Tories and my wife received similar only from Tony? Why did the Labour candidate only have my wife's name on his list when he called last night? They couldn't be associating the number on your ballot slip with your name and bunging it on a big datbase could they?

Remember, you're not paranoid when you know they're following you....

8th Jun 2001, 18:36
That's right & the moon landings did'nt take
place & Elvis has a job as a caretaker at a junior school in Cleckheaton.
Keep him talking while i call the police.

8th Jun 2001, 18:56
Its all due to chemtrails you know!!

Drink more beer! Its the only known antidote!

Tartan Gannet
9th Jun 2001, 04:11
Of course they do! I have been a Councillor before and an election agent. Nowadays all the Voters Roll is on CD Rom and software exists to log all the canvassing returns showing the person from year to year and any change of voting intention. The number given at the door of the polling station is then input and if the voter told the truth one has a record of those who have voted for you or the other parties. This can be then used to ensure your people get out to vote, to target leaflets etc. There isnt a lot of point sending a Tory Leaflet to a rock solid Labourite who has voted for that party for years or vice versa.

Of course the powers that be can easily see how an elector voted any time they want to. The ballot paper has a number printed on the back, it is torn from a book with a counterfoil and the person's number on the electoral register is written on this. So say I was Number DP1234 this election and my ballot paper was number 5678 in Reading West. Dead simple to see how I voted just match the papers, (which are kept for some years and probably microfilmed or scanned), and you will see that good old TG backed the loser this time and voted Tory. Secret Ballot MY AR*E! you'll be telling me the cheque is in the post next! :) :) :)

[This message has been edited by Tartan Gannet (edited 09 June 2001).]

Winston Smith
9th Jun 2001, 06:04
And I always thought I'd seen it all... http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/eek.gif

Tartan Gannet
9th Jun 2001, 12:21
I can add to the flaws in the so called "secret ballot".

Whenever a party of the extreme left or right stood it was an open secret that the powers that be would cross reference the ballot papers to find out who had voted for them "for their files". Once at a by-election I was chatting afterwards to some of the other parties scrutineers. In politics one gets reasonably friendly with one's opposite numbers and you see all the usual faces at the count. At one of the tables some well dressed chaps I didnt recognise were looking at a stack of ballot papers and making notes on a clip board. I asked who they were. "Oh they are from the local Special Branch making notes on who voted for the National Front". They also used to do this with Communist voters in the 1950s. You can bet your bottom dollar that those who voted BNP on Thursday in Oldham will have been logged.

tony draper
9th Jun 2001, 13:04
I remember once being told that anyone borrowing The Communist Manifesto or any Marx, from the library was flagged.
I thought Oh yeh! conspirasy theory, turns out this was true.

Paul Wesson
9th Jun 2001, 14:09

I have just spent a number of evenings knocking on people's doors asking them how they intend to vote. I had a clipboard with a print out of the electoral roll and noted those who were for, against, possible etc. Come the day of the election 'tellers' stood at the door of the polling stations and noted the polling numbers of those entering/departing. Not everyone gives the numbers, but most do and even if you only gave the number to the teller from your side he/she would as a quid pro quo share it with the other side.

If you give the number it will save you hassle later because, with a couple of hours to go to close of poll, the party activists who have been keeping records all day will rush around knocking on the doors of those who said they would vote for that party, and haven't yet voted, to try to get them to go to the polling station (even giving lifts if necessary). In marginal seats you will see vehicles driving at break neck speeds carrying grannies from their death beds to vote if need be. I know plenty of people who have won or lost council seats by single numbers of votes because of this activity.

We were 'knocking up' people who we hadn't canvassed this time, but had been our supporters in the past (yes, records are kept by all major parties). If you or your spouse have told a canvasser the way you intend to vote then that information is stored (not necessarily electronically) for years. At election time each candidate has a strict limit on the amount he/she may spend on his/her campaign. It is only sensible that money is targetted at getting known supporters out. At any election the core vote is critical. The last 2 elections have seen Tories in the industrial cities staying away in droves whilst the floating voters appear to have been attracted to the other parties (for whatever reason). Better kept records and more activists can change the election result markedly - hence the Liberal penchant for flooding by-elections with campaigners as soon as the seat is vacated, way before the election is called, and building up extensive and accurate records so that they get their vote out.

With regards to the marked ballot papers, they are kept for a number of years, but that is because of the possibility of claims of fraud, personation etc. When this started happening after the Ballot Act the electorate was considerably smaller, other public records were less extensive and probably less reliable and, after the days of the public hustings, when cheating by using another person's vote was impossible, there was probably a fear of people rigging elections. In Northern Ireland the expression 'Vote early, vote often' was coined after many notorious cases of personation - whole streets had been demolished and yet every elector had voted by 10.00am when normally only 70% of the population would vote during the whole day. Two Hackney Councillors have recently been done for election rigging so the fear is genuine.

With regards to Special Branch etc keeping records of BNP votes at Oldham, that would be difficult given the number cast and the speed with which a count is conducted. I've been to loads of counts and wouldn't have been able to keep an eye on even one counter and recorded every vote they handled. Counts are about speed in getting the result out and votes are handled in bundles. Counters are only looking for a properly recorded 'X' on a line, they don't even pay that much regard to the candidates' names. The votes are sorted into heaps, bundled according to candidate, counted and recorded by numbers only.

Once the votes are counted they are kept secure by the local council and no-one can wander in and obtain the information. The police would probably require a warrant and that would only be issued for a good reason.

Likewise the idea that SB would have been recording votes at a count seems ludicrous since the records are there for 7 years, I believe. If there were to be an attempted 'putsch' it would be easier and more practical to wait for the day itself. The last time the NF stood en masse at a general election was 1979. They fought just over half the seats. To record the hundreds of thousands of voters would have required over 1000 officers at say 3 per count. The information would by now be useless as many voters are dead, have moved or have changed their views. Best just to infiltrate the local extremist branch and record the activists - the only people who are really relevant. Come the revolution the protest voters and pissed off grannies aren't going to join in anyway.

Personally I think our system is as safe as can be. It certainly seems better than the one used in Florida and, having been an election supervisor at the Kosovo municipal elections, I think we are privileged to have the reliable and effective system we have. In Kosovo I had to call in armed police to allow me to continue to run my polling station which was being swamped by over enthusiastic, non-queueing Albanians whose names had been missed off the electoral roll in the first place! I also had windows smashed and my staff intimidated. Once you've been involved in an election where there are tanks and guns about your whole view of democracy changes. I much prefer the British system of being a friend to your rivals and having little jokes at the polling station or on the door step. An accurate recording system is a small price to pay.

[This message has been edited by Paul Wesson (edited 09 June 2001).]