PRISON BLOG 46
Electoral Learnings of America for make benefit Glorious Nation of New Zealand PART TWO
NZ has a paper voting system (with scannable barcodes from memory) that work very well. Most of us cannot understand the American fascination for machines and gadgets – that don’t work. We cannot understand how a nation so fixated with systematism, with grids, with Roman-like administrative order can have every country pretty much determining its own forms, procedures and machines – for a national election. Then again Pakeha have no real history of independent local government (Provinces were abolished in 1876) as exists in the USA, so when presented with a map of the US and there’s paper, punch-card and optical scan systems in Idaho, lever voting (?) in New York and mixes of electronic around the country the reaction is: how on Earth does that work? Well *coughs* Florida 2000* it doesn’t work, does it.
Mr. Bradbury has given extensive investigation to the Diebold/ES&S etc. issue so I cant add anything except to say it is only one small part of a bigger problem. Take the hopeful note in the Miami Herald the day before the election by the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections; it begins: ”Voting is a privilege that the Miami-Dade Elections Dept. wants…” And in the state of Florida it is a privilege, not a right as such. In our Westminster-style system citizens are not deprived of their right to vote unless under a sentence of imprisonment expiring after the term of the next parliament – which seems fair enough to me (or perhaps for me). In the UK (Bobby Sands) and Fiji (George Speight) prisoners have even been elected to parliament – a far cry from Florida and some other US states who have stripped this fundamental right from a group that has a proven proclivity to make the mistake of voting Democrat. How a person is supposed to be rehabilitated as a useful member of society through a spiteful, political, permanent diminution of their citizenship status is a wanton handicap that I cannot fathom as anything but evil. So the elections supervisor must assure those privileged voters that it wont be fucked up like last time – something NZ has not experienced (yes – there was a problem with the STV votes counted by a NZ Post subsidiary last time but that was a time issue that effected only anxious candidates and not an accuracy and legitimacy issue that effected the Leader of the Free World™). As the news editor of Craccum back in 1997 I criticised the Auckland University students’ association’s anti-constitutional use of telephone voting in an election-something the NZ Herald editorialized upon as a great leap forward (ignoring the illegibility that was unfortunately upheld by the High Court). My stance is unchanged, as the evidence is unchanged : whether its Miami-Dade’s iVotronic machines, Diebold’s AccuVote, whatever it is they use in India, or Auckland University’s telephone exam information systems adapted for voting purposes, the fact remains the most credible, transparent, simple, proven, verifiable method of recording a voter’s intention is a paper ballot. If you want someone to win an election with more than 100% of the vote, go ahead, have internet voting – I dare you. Administratively of course the legions of civic-minded retirees that staff polling centres are relieved of the lengthy process of actually physically counting and tabulating the vote – that is one of the few advantages of an electronic system. As far as a speedy result goes I don’t rate a saving of a few hours to spare the agony of candidates as having any weight.
DON’T FORGET Tim’s Book and magazine collection for the Prison Library, please send your books and magazines to:
Hawkes Bay Prison
Private Bag 1600
Tim Selwyn (Editor of Tumeke!)
Hawkes Bay Prison
Currently appealing sedition conviction