Is our "secret" ballot truly secret?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Punch, Apr 15, 2010.

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  1. When I vote, whether it is in local or national elections, I am always struck by the care and attention given to the issue of the various ballot papers.
    Each seems to have serials or references and are taken from very neatly filed or bundled packs. And of course we know that identification marks need not be visible to the naked eye.

    While I accept that ballot papers and their issue must be carefully controlled to avoid fraud it occurs to me every time I vote that it may be quite a simple matter to compare voters to their choice of candidate.

    While I am not arrogant enough to believe that my personal vote is of any real interest to the "powers-that-be" it would seem an easy matter for some government agency to ascertain how a particular individual votes.

    Can anyone guarantee the true secrecy of the ballot box?
  2. Guarantee? No - especially if you are a postal voter. But the vetting of the people who actually gain custody of the ballots is fairly severe and the records of ballot issuance more so, so, pragmatically, you are safe against tracing.

    Like most things, it is a compromise - between ensuring you get your one legitimate vote and complete anonymity.
  3. What difference would it make if they DID know who you'd voted for?
  4. While I admit the powers that be could collect such information. I don't think they could keep it secret for long. I mean it would only take some numpty a matter of weeks to leave an unencrypted disc or memory stick containing the data on a train or in a cafe toilet :)
  5. Almost certainly none in my case - I am too old for "re-education".

    I was thinking more of the description "secret" when it is unlikely to be a secret to any "big brother" organisation, the "they" in your response, ( of any government) which might wish to use it for profiling.
  6. My missus asked the bloke in the polling station. He says they record the number of your ballot paper against your name on the register. However, it's supposed to take a ruling in the High Court to break the seals on the records and link a ballot paper with a specific person.

    Having said that, I recall reading something about all of the documentation for the Glenrothes by-election going missing when questions were asked about the conduct of the election.
  7. The fundamental reason why they're marked and recorded is to guard against the Returning Officer being nobbled.

    If you were to rock up and say, "That can't be right, everyone in my ward voted for the other bloke", it would be important for police investigators to be able to interview each voter and compare their testimony to the ballot papers cast.
  8. ok substitute 'they' for 'anyone'...i still don't see how it makes a difference!! Will they come and spray 'Limp Deb' all over my front walls or 'Tory Lover' on my door? :D
  9. I have been a polling station monitor in a part of the Balkans where some local voters were apprehensive of reprisals in the event of their voting choice becoming known.

    In UK terms, the historical origins of the secret ballot lie more in the risk of electoral corruption and bribery, rather than fear of reprisal. It remains an important principle.
  10. The Government of the day would love to know how individuals vote.
  11. Why are you asking? Are you thinking of voting labour and are worried people might find out?
  12. If they ask me, I'll tell em!! I don't see it as a big deal really.
  13. To what end?

  14. Probably affect promotion in goverment departments, any BNP voters would be in the shit.
  15. Hmmm - as long as the BNP remains a legal party it would make for some very interesting scenarios and some very rich lawyers.