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Electoral system not up to proper standards

Published 18/05/2016

Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor
Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

Yet again the recent elections across the UK failed to come up to international standards.

Firstly, the ballot paper should be (but is not) anonymous.

Secondly, party agents in the polling stations are able to collect data on individual voters.

In most elections conducted under the guidelines of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), party agents are allowed to observe the voting process in the round — they are normally seated in one corner of the polling station — but they are not allowed access to the register or to the identity of any particular voter.

Thirdly, counts can be capricious, because some transfers are made according to the wishes of the relevant voters — and quite right, too — while some are made quite wrongly, as if all concerned had transferred in the same way as those who did cast further preferences.

After many years campaigning against this quirk in the rules a delegation went to see the-then minister George Howarth MP to raise concerns.

The minister agreed that there was cause for concern, but suggested we should meet his chief electoral officer, because, he said, he (Howarth) didn’t really understand voting systems. So, we did.

But, he said, he (the chief electoral officer) didn’t really understand voting systems...

PETER EMERSON

Director, The de Borda Institute

Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

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