Sunday, April 24, 2005

Updated "Postal Voting" news from the UK

The United Kingdom's Electoral Commission has issued a reply to the challenge from an election judge in Birmingham.

If you aren't up to speed, the Electoral Commission recommended an expansion in "postal voting," essentially an equivalent to "no excuse" absentee balloting used by many states and counties in the US. They show some circumstantial evidence that postal voting increases turnout (although they make few attempts to compare other reasons why turnout may have increased between the elections under scrutiny). As has been shown in many other settings, the public reports a high level of satisfaction with postal voting.

While the report, based on experiences in the June 2004 election, found little evidence of irregularities in the administration of postal voting, the public perception was that postal voting was inherently more prone to fraud. The Commission's recommendation to solve the problem is for the UK to implement an "individual" registration system, rather than one based on registration by "homes" as is currently in place.

In their reply to the Birmingham judge, the commission says that there are ways to improve the integrity of postal voting, but complain that these changes have not been legislated. It's not clear why they even allow this much -- their own report found virtually no indications of fraud in four separate pilot tests of postal voting.


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