Saturday, 26 March 2011

There was a media uproar

at the last state election when someone wrote a letter claiming they had voted multiple times. I cannot remember the details now. Even at the time I did not think it was terribly newsworthy. I suspect that multiple voting is quite commonplace - and often done with the best of intentions. Someone goes in to vote for a parent or other relative, friend or neighbour who is unwell or away and unable to get to a polling booth. They do not even see this as "multiple voting". It is "merely voting for someone else". They will even carry out the exact wishes of the other person.
Getting someone off the electoral roll can be quite difficult. You can ask to be removed if you are going abroad for an extended period of time. They powers-that-be do not really like this, especially as some people conveniently forget to add themselves to the electoral roll again on their return. When someone dies you are supposed to notify the Electoral Office. They are supposed to remove the name. I sent a copy of my mother's death certificate to the State and Federal Electoral Offices when my mother died. There was a state election over twelve months later - and a "please explain" for not voting in the post some weeks later. Fortunately I found it before my father did and went through the whole process again. I doubt they took any notice of the letter I wrote with it.
The electoral roll is used for multiple purposes. Jurors are called up by supposedly random selection of names on the electoral roll. I say supposedly because the pool of potential jurors has to be large enough to allow for people who are excused from jury duty - such as doctors - or unable to do it or likely to be challenged.
It is also used for the purposes of research. Anyone can access the basic electoral roll. The government uses it for a variety of research purposes. There is ongoing research into households, their income, their expenditure and any number of other matters. Those chosen must participate and often find it intrusive and time consuming. Marketing companies will use it to "randomly select" people to participate in their research or to target a potential market.
It can also be used, as it apparently was, to vote more than once for the purpose of obtaining another vote.
There was, it is reported, an inquiry into the multiple voting affair. Nothing has come of it. I have no idea what information they had to work on or how they conducted the inquiry. Nevertheless it has made me wonder about not just the electoral process but the electoral roll. It can obviously be manipulated. It is far from accurate. The government does send people around once in a while to supposedly check on the voters living at an address. They came here once, asked a question at the door. I answered it honestly and they went away. I could just as easily have said I was the only person living at the address or told them there were twelve people.
The reality is that the whole system is so full of holes and potential for fraud that it is a wonder it works as well as it does.
There is an election today in New South Wales. I wonder how accurate the results will be.


Anonymous said...

The answer to that Cat is - not very. The NSW results should be a reflection of the frustration this time. If it were not for the "compulsory" nature of it (and preferencing) though I doubt Labor would retain more than a handful of seats. Chris

Anonymous said...

They may not anyway. Chris