Polly Toynbee in the Guardian today bemoans the low turn out and the perceived ‘rotten borough’ nature of Britain’s parliamentary democracy. Among her arguments she suggests voting should be made easier by allowing people to use their mobile phones.

I have commented; because identifying oneself to government, counting elections and guaranteeing the secrecy of the ballot are the last things we should hand over to proprietary, closed software. Digital activists have come to the conclusion that even counting election results by scanned paper ballots is undesirable and where it is done in this country, a sample based manual verification is undertaken. I presented the argument that the regulator’s code must be open to the @labourdigital Top of the Manifestos event.

To the arguments presented there, I add, that it’s unlikely we would outsource running the election to G4S; allowing it to be run and counted by closed restricted right to use software is the same thing. I should also add that what secrecy there is would be reduced and open to both GCHQ and the software authors and hosting companies. The social networking companies would love this information. They also spend an immense amount of money on lobbying for the laws they want.


Voting by Mobile Phone
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