Proud Voters Tweeting In The UK Could Receive Jail Time And A Fine

from the sharing-is-caring dept

As anyone who reads my posts can probably tell, I really love politics. I like talking about issues, I like playing polemicist with politicians, and I really, really like voting. There's a sense of pride in voting, where even if I ultimately know my contribution to the running of our society is a small one, I'm still engaged in it. I'm not alone, either. Lots of people like to share the fact that they voted and what they voted for. That kind of pride is a good thing, I think.

The UK disagrees, apparently, since the actions of many voters recently could amount to big fines and jail time.

While the fear over voting-booth selfies during Thursday's Local and European Elections was mostly exaggerated, there is a real danger lurking inside polling stations for British voters: Sharing photos of completed ballots—something many appear keen to do—is against U.K. law. The Register reports that under various parts of Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, it is an offence to make public someone's vote after a mark has been made on the paper. Many citizens don't appear to have realised this and have proudly been indicating who they have voted for on Twitter.


Now, my understanding for the reasons of this law is that the government is attempting to minimize any chance of voter intimidation or influencing the votes of others through this ballot sharing. The general idea is that if everyone keeps their voting ballot a secret, the larger public's vote will be more impartial. Here is my nuanced and well-reasoned response to the theory and the accompanying law: "Hahahahahahahahaha!"

The entire notion that keeping pictures and social media out of the vote-sharing game will accomplish anything at all is inherently silly. The culture of politics today is so completely open for discussion that there is an entire industry built around it: the political theater on talk-radio and the twenty-four hour news channels. Any pretense about getting citizens to not talk about who and what they voted for is so naive that it's a wonder the entire notion hasn't been laughed off of the British Islands by now. And, as we've covered before, it isn't just that side of the ocean, either. Right here at home, in Wisconsin, citizens can also face fines and jail time for sharing their completed ballots on social media.

The point is that now that the culture of sharing has grown such that this many people are violating this law, the entire purpose of the law is logically obviated. After all, if huge numbers of people are sharing their ballots, the intimidation factor kind of goes away. It's just a matter of pride from involved citizens. Criminalizing that pride doesn't make any sense.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:16pm

    Different reason

    I think the point is to avoid vote-buying. They want to avoid the possibility of people paying for documented proof of voting a certain way.

     

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  2.  
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    Aaron (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:21pm

    Out of curiosity, to be illegal what medium would qualify? Do I get in trouble if I write it down, took a photo, yelled it into a LEO's ear with a megaphone?

    That last one I could live with actually.

     

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  3.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:24pm

    You're wrong to belittle this regulation. If a person can prove how they voted they can be forced to prove it, and that is dangerous.

     

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  4.  
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    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    That's not the point.

    If everyone actually posted their REAL votes, how could the anointed candidate be declared the winner? Are you trying to inject truth and accuracy and public accountability into voting? What will you want next? A real choice in candidates who would actually support the people they are supposed to represent? heresy, I tell ya. you kids.

     

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  5.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Nope

    Complete non-story, as even the original Register story makes clear:

    "It is not a crime to snap silly, duckface pictures of yourself when casting a vote. But revealing how someone else has ticked the box is illegal."

    Which is probably as it should be.

     

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  6.  
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    LJI, May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:32pm

    Can I suggest that before everyone jumps on the bandwagon they actually *read* s66 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 first.
    It doesn't say what seems to be being assumed here.
    It's a non-story...

     

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  7.  
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    Lurker Keith, May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:35pm

    Wisconsin, *facepalm*

    You're saying Wisconsin is putting a restriction on what people can & cannot communicate to others? Last I checked, the Founding Fathers outlawed such restrictions...

     

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  8.  
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    observer, May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Nope

    66(3)(c) seems to be the key bit: "No person shall communicate at any time to any person any information obtained in a polling station as to the candidate for whom a voter in that station is about to vote or has voted, or as to the number on the back of the ballot paper given to a voter at that station." If this covers someone revealing their own vote, then saying "I voted for X" would surely be as illegal as tweeting your ballot paper.

     

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  9.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Different reason

    That was my first thought as well, such laws are probably put in place to keep unscrupulous people/groups from going out and offering people money if they vote a particular way, and can provide proof of it.

     

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  10.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:41pm

    Re:

    Amusingly, techdirt and the dailydot (the article techdirt links to, instead of the original Register article for some reason ...) mention section 66, Requirement of Secrecy...

    Whereas the Register original refers to section 66A, Prohibition on publication of exit polls.

    Nice.

     

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  11.  
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    Retsibsi (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Nope

    Precisely. The key bit is "any information obtained in a polling station". The information wasn't obtained in a polling station. You (presumably? Hopefully?) knew who you were going to vote for before and after the fact.
    The clear inference in s66(3)(c) is that it refers to you tweeting information about someone else's vote. You can go outside and broadcast the information as to how *you* voted as much or as little as you like.
    Mind you, I'd be more than a little irritated at some clown taking photos in a polling station...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:47pm

    " Any pretense about getting citizens to not talk about who and what they voted for is so naive"

    Clueless. I have no idea who my (English) parents voted for and I know that they didn't tell each other. They were not unusual. There are still a lot of people in the UK for whom the ballot box and the historical connotations of being able to vote mean it's sort-of sacred and not to be demeaned. Kind of like religious people and communion or confession.

     

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  13.  
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    Aaron (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Nope

    ...it should be a crime.

     

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  14.  
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    Retsibsi (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re:

    Not a bad point but the article is still a misreading of the statute. It refers to "persons", not the voter himself/herself publishing how they voted.
    Though personally I think it's extremely bad manners to do so.

     

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  15.  
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    Claire Rand, May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    another side to this

    There have been a good few reports of the ballot papers being handed out with a hard fold at the bottom, so one specific party appears only when you unfold it.

    Of course this has happened before and is generally noted there is 'not enough evidence'

    just before an election where that party was expected to do well and firmly put the fox in the hen house the state broadcaster makes it very clear that taking pics of a ballot paper is a no-no.

    Illustrated with a pic of a ballot paper.. shown folded being handed to someone - the rules _specifically_ say they have to be unfolded.

    The rules older than modern times, but in a few of our more cuturually enriched areas they get bent.

     

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  16.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: Nope

    Assuming some hard-ass cop wants to try it on, I very much doubt any CPS lawyer would try it.

    But even if he/she did ...

    The voter who tweets their own vote (and only their own vote) did not "obtain in a polling station information as to whom the voter in that station is about to vote or has already voted".

    That voter already knew, prior to entering that polling station, who he/she was going to vote for, and hence did not "obtain in a polling station" any such information.

    Unless the CPS could somehow prove that you didn't know who you were going to vote for at the time you entered the polling station, I think frankly they'd be onto a sticky wicket. Not one, I'd have thought, they'd want to try to set any kind of legal precedent with.

    And that's not even talking about freedom of speech - I think they'd have a hard time arguing that you were not permitted to tell people how you voted if you wanted to, and if you're allowed to verbally express it I don't see why expressing it visually (whether as simple text, as a photo, painting, sculpture, or even interpretative dance :) ) could possibly be banned.

     

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  17.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Drat, beaten to it by Retsibsi. I need to type faster :)

     

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  18.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Re: another side to this

    This rule wouldn't prevent anyone from documenting any such misconduct by voting officials. If I received a ballot like that and took a picture of it, it would not be in violation as long as I did so before marking my vote on the ballot.

    As noted above, the prohibition on sharing pictures of completed ballots serves a very legitimate purpose: making it harder to buy votes by making it illegal to share proof that you cast the vote you were paid to cast.

     

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  19.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Section 66A makes reference to a person, which could thus be interpreted to include the actual voter him/herself, and thus could lead to a prosecution by some overly keen CPS type.

    But I think it would be quite bizarre to do so, and I don't see the CPS trying it unless something truly bizarre happened. I suspect there'd be uproar if somebody told the British public they *had* to keep secret how they voted.

    It's kind of traditional that we do - even amongst my own family, we don't say how we voted - but if somebody tried to say it was legally required that we don't? Yeah, that boat wouldn't float. Daily Mail would probably have a field day :)

     

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  20.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re: Nope

    You're perfectly free to ask your local MP to raise the matter in Parliament, and to strive to get the law changed.

     

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  21.  
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    Lorpius Prime (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:12pm

    Re:

    Imagine an employer suggesting that his employees tweet pictures of filled ballots for particular causes and candidates... and reminding them that a round of layoffs is expected soon.

     

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  22.  
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    Retsibsi (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: another side to this

    There have certainly been reports of such but from a cursory search they would seem to all emanate from one party. When I attended to vote the ballot paper for the European election was certainly folded. But it was of such a size I can't see how on earth anyone could mark their vote without first unfolding it fully (otherwise it wouldn't open at all)

     

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  23.  
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    Retsibsi (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed. I don't know how it is outside the UK but I think that's a pretty fair summation of how it's treated here

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re: Different reason

    The problem of people offering incentives to people being able to show a "correctly" filled out ballot is not at all far fetched and has been documented in western democracies.
    It is an indirect and problematic type of compromising the integrity of the voting process!

    When that is said, having a law against the publication of what you vote for, is not the most obvious way to fight this.

     

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  25.  
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    Claire Rand, May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: another side to this

    Its not so much the casual folding you need to do to get the poster sized bit of paper into a box as the specific fold that only hides one party - I've seen this myself in two elections now, the only purpose is to hide that party from some people who have enough trouble remembering what an 'X' looks like.

    Doesn't appear to have worked this time.

     

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  26.  
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    Justin Johnson (JJJJust) (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 4:29pm

    Not just a UK thing...

    The same things were said about the last presidential election in the US. Many states on this side of the "pond" have laws against photographing ballots and/or recording in polling places. Go figure.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 5:04pm

    Why not just call up the NSA?

    You can be sure that they can provide a detail list of who voted for whom pictures, movies, and recordings of conversations of the voter's sentiments.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 5:07pm

    Re: That's not the point.

    exactly the end game i was thinking about...

    1. do NOT 'trust' computer-based PROPRIETARY voting systems the way they are presently implemented...
    2. ONE of the suspicions (there are MANY 'anomalous' elections if you follow such issues) i have, is how 'exit polling' (which used to be an INCREDIBLY accurate measure of eventual vote results), has been denigrated such that when you get exit polling results which vary significantly from the *SUPPOSED* vote count, they now say the exit polling must be flawed, rather than think something is wrong with the vote count...
    how con-veeeeeen-yant...
    3. IF -as a self-defense strategy- sheeple actually suspected the vote counting was not on the up-and-up, and proceeded to do a 'people's vote count' by -say- these type of selfies (why do i hate myself for even using the narcissistic hipster term ?), then -obviously- Empire can't have that, thus this preemptive strike to avoid that little potential glimmer of self-rule...
    check and mate, sheeple, what you gonna do now ? ? ?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 6:14pm

    You mean the UK still hasn't figured out why the US created the 1st amendment and why it was a good idea?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Re: Nope

    People have a 1st amendment right to share who they support. That law begs a constitutional challenge.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Here is where the twisting begins. It's not the sharing of the information about how you voted that they will argue in such a case. It's the raw data of the image captured by the camera in the cell phone that was "obtained" by the means of taking the picture twisting a well intentioned law meant to keep people from invading other's right to privacy in voting into a violation of their first amendment rights. More evidence of the concept of too many lawyers, too few bullets.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Sorry, thought they were quoting the Wisconsin law not the UK one.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2014 @ 8:07pm

    Well *I* voted for Kodos!

     

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  34.  
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    Aaron (profile), May 23rd, 2014 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    I live in the U.S. actually but I was just making fun that duckfacing should be a crime. Nothing serious.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 12:42am

    Re: Re: Different reason

    As someone from Africa, offers of money are not the problem. Threats against your family are.

     

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  36.  
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    F23g, May 24th, 2014 @ 2:34am

    Re: Different reason

    If it's about preventing vote buying, then it's not publication of the photos that's a problem. Someone who sells his/her vote is not likely to publish this publicly, but rather just show the buyer a picture in private. And what does that prove anyway.

     

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  37.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 3:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    The UK doesn't have the first amendment, so that's not an issue :)

     

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  38.  
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    observer, May 24th, 2014 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: That's not the point.

    1. do NOT 'trust' computer-based PROPRIETARY voting systems the way they are presently implemented... The system in the UK is 100% manual: you put a cross in the box next to your chosen candidate with a pencil, then the ballot papers are counted by hand in the evening.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 4:49am

    "Proud Voters Tweeting In The UK Could Receive Jail Time And A Fine"

    Bullshit journalism of Mr Geigner.

    Proper title should be:

    "People Manipulating Voting System In The UK Could Receive Jail Time And A Fine"

    Note, that this law IS on the books since... like 1983. Well before Al Gore invented Internetz.

    Ever noticed that in Canada the media whores are prohibited from declaring election winner in New Foundland before last fellow in Yukon has casted a ballot?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    I initially thought the citation was the Wisconsin law but still my point is valid. This is clearly a law intended to prevent people from abusing the rights of others that is being twisted to restrict the free speech rights of the individual.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 4:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Any picture taken there whether it is of a ballot or not is technically "information obtained" there.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2014 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: Different reason

    If UK elections operate the same way Australian ones do, you can take a photo of a marked ballot without actually voting that way: you can mark the ballot, take the picture, then tell a polling booth official you mismarked your ballot and would like to destroy the current one and start fresh.

    If you vote in person at a polling booth in a pencil-and-paper election, there really isn't any practical way for someone else to be certain that you voted a particular way.

     

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  43.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 7:45am

    It's a very sensible law. If you can prove how you vote to others, you can be FORCED to prove it. The fact that social media might allow such voter intimidation does not make it any more acceptable. this is not some quaint old-fashioned pre-social-media idea. The idea that it should not be possible to prove to anyone else how you voted is at the heart of the concept of the secret ballot. It is not possible to bribe/blackmail someone into voting in a particular way if there is no way of knowing whether they have delivered on the promise.
    In Italy voters are actually required to leave their mobile phones outside when going into the polling station to vote, as voter intimidation by Mafia by requiring voters to email completed ballot papers had become such a serious problem.

     

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  44.  
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    Jeff Green (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 7:52am

    A very old and extremely good principle

    While vote rigging may be considered a constitutional right on the left hand side of the pond over here we believe in secret ballots.

    You are at complete liberty to tell anyone how you voted, what you may not do is attempt to prove it. This is a thoroughly good thing. Representatives of all the candidates can see the ballot boxes all the time from opening of the vote until the end of the count. But no-one is allowed to see what is on any paper until the boxes are opened, this rule is only likely to be strengthened not relaxed.

     

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  45.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    This is not a free speech issue. No-one is being prevented from telling the world that they are voted for a particular candidate (the voter could be lying). What this law does is prevent people from providing proof of how they voted. The integrity of the secret ballot trumps freedom of speech, as it should do.

     

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  46.  
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    Kaemaril (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Voters advised not to take selfies in polling booths

    "Anyone who inadvertently reveals how someone else votes in Thursday's local and European elections could face a £5,000 fine or six months in prison."

    I'd be interesting in seeing how many people will be prosecuted for taking a photograph of how they (and only they) voted in this, or for that matter any, election. Give it six months, and I'd be very, very, surprised if the answer isn't zero.

     

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  47.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    No-one is suggesting that you're not allowed to tell people how you have voted. What is (rightly) forbidden is PROVING to other people how you have voted. A photo of a completed ballot paper in a voting booth is proof of being about to vote for a particular candidate/party. That is why it is (and should be) illegal. I can post on social media or tell my friends that I have voted for Jane Smith of the Purple Party, but this is not proof that I have actually done so. I could be lying. And that is how it should be.
    Anyone is, and should be, allowed to declare publicly that they voted for so-and-so. No-one should be allowed to provide evidence of having done so. The integrity of the secret ballot *must* trump freedom of speech in this case.

     

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  48.  
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    Anshar (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 10:56am

    In Canada…

    … we have a similar law. Part of the purpose of the law is prevent the *outcome* in some ridings from influencing others. Because we have 6 time zones, voters in the west are still casting ballots while voters in the east have already elected their representatives. Our law is (in part) meant to prevent western voters from saying to themselves "oh, it looks like party X is going to win so I'll vote for them (or against them or not vote at all.)"

     

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  49.  
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    GEMont, May 24th, 2014 @ 11:05am

    Verifiable vote is not allowed

    "After all, if huge numbers of people are sharing their ballots, the intimidation factor kind of goes away."

    And if everyone actually signed their ballots, it would make voting into something absolutely useful as then the "tally" could be verified and everyone who voted could insure that their vote was properly counted and not lost or "repaired".

    In plain words, it will never be allowed.

     

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  50.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, the whole point of the secret ballot is that you *have* to keep secret how you voted. This does NOT mean you cannot claim to others how you voted. I can tell the world that I voted for XYZ, but I could be lying. This is NOT the same as providing proof that I voted for XYZ. Providing proof violates the secret ballot, and a photo of a completed ballot paper in a voting booth is exactly such proof. Telling people that you voted for XYZ is NOT a violation of the secret ballot, and anyone can do this and we don't know whether they are telling the truth.

     

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  51.  
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    Alex Macfie, May 24th, 2014 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    It would also mean that everyone would know how everyone else voted, so there would be no secret ballot. so it is a damned good thing that it will never be allowed.
    And anyway, the tally can already be verified, because we are dealing with physical pieces of paper on which people's voting intentions are clear for all to see. Individually, votes cannot be verified (traced to a specific person), and that is a good thing. But collectively, they are completely verifiable, because any fool can see what a mark on a ballot paper means.

     

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  52.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 5:41pm

    Tweeting your vote

    As an attorney, and a precinct inspector in elections (note,
    we are paid, if you consider about $10/hour "being paid" - and that is for INSPECTORS! Hat tip to the election clerks; they are true patriotic Americans, IMO!) - I am torn. I am sure no laws would mean vote buying, with proof required before payment - not a good thing. But I am glad that people take voting seriously.
    I would think a Judge would dismiss a case in the absence of proof of abuse - but requiring them to go to court is, to me, abuse of the citizen.
    REAL problem - I would think the authorities would use a little judgement, if the system allows it.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    How is that not a free speech issue? That absolutely is a free speech issue. The only reason ballots need to be secret is to protect the right to privacy of the voter such that they cannot be intimidated into voting a particular way via a threats. That privacy is solely at their descression to reveal by whatever means they wish to reveal it. The only possible reason to keep people from proving how they vote is if under the veil of the secret ballot, those in charge with tallying the votes intend on rigging the process. The free speech issues presented by forbidding a voter from publishing evidence of their own vote are not at odds with integrity of the secret ballot. If anything it strengthens that integrity.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Why exactly is that a problem?

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No. The point of a secret ballot is that you are ALLOWED to keep secret how you voted so that you cannot be intimidated with threats based on a verification of your vote. Whether or not you could be lying when you tell people how you voted is completely irrelevant. And images can be altered, a ballot can be changed after the picture is taken before it is submitted as well so your theory of the picture as "proof" really doesn't hold any merit either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 7:14am

    Re:

    There is a big difference between ALLOWING people to something and COMPELLING them to do something. In the US this is why we have both the 1st amendment and the 4th and 5th amendments to the Constitution. People have every right to freely share with anyone, including the government any information they have the right to keep private even if it implicates them in a crime. However, they cannot be compelled to do so without due process of law.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    The only way everyone would know how everyone else voted is if everyone CHOSE to reveal how they voted. Clearly that is not going to happen and if it did why is it a problem for people to exercise their right to free speech?

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 25th, 2014 @ 9:48am

    Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    You miss the point: allowing people to prove how they voted means that they can be COMPELLED to do so, usually by private entities. Government isn't the only thing that can limit freedom.
    Votes in elections are not "private". They are SECRET. SECRET means that proof of how any individual voted should NOT be available, ever, even if the individual wants it to be. Violating this principle does not violate any individual's rights so much as it violates the integrity of the voting process itself.
    When you vote, you are making a choice that everyone voting in the same election as you will live under, not just yourself. Voting is intrinsically a SOCIETAL act, not an individual act. It is not a consumer choice, where John who voted Labour lives under Labour rules, and Jane his next-door neighbour who voted Tory lives under Tory rules. When you vote, you vote for laws you want to apply to the entire community. This means that everyone has a direct interest in influencing how everyone else votes, and why improper influence of someone's vote needs to be stamped out. Thus it is illegal, and rightly so, to be a willing participant in a vote-buying scheme, even if it is your own vote that is being bought: by so doing, you are giving someone else improper influence over the election result. And sharing proof of how you voted with someone else is a method of giving other people such undue influence (by proving that you have delivered on a voting promise for which you were paid money, for instance).
    There are limits to free speech as you well know. Protecting democracy is one case where free speech may need to be limited.

     

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    Alex Macfie, May 25th, 2014 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    It is a problem because it enables vote buying and selling. Voting secrecy is important to ensure that those things cannot happen. There is no point in trying to bribe or blackmail someone to vote for a particular candidate if there is no way of knowing whether the voter has delivered on the deal. For this to work, it has to be impossible, and illegal, to reveal how you voted. This does NOT mean that you can't verbally state that you voted for X. It just means you aren't allowed to prove you did so. Free speech is not the issue here; it is the integrity of the voting process that is at stake.

     

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    Alex Macfie, May 25th, 2014 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, the point of a secret ballot is you are COMPELLED to keep it secret. Only then can you not be intimidated (if you are allowed not to keep it secret then you can be put under pressure not to).
    "Whether or not you could be lying when you tell people how you voted is completely irrelevant." WRONG. It is PRECISELY the point. Me saying I voted for the Purple Party is not proof that I actually did so. I can tell anyone what I think they want to hear about how I voted.
    Images can be altered, perhaps, but not easily from a phone, and not everyone knows how to do this. Ballots can be changed, but again not everyone realises this, so a threat by some organisation of "consequences" if they do not email photos of completed ballots from the voting booth can be effective.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 25th, 2014 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Why is what a problem?

     

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    Alex Macfie, May 25th, 2014 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    If you have the option (legally or practically) of revealing how you voted by publishing evidence of it, then you can be intimidated into doing so: whoever is seeking to improperly influence your vote can draw inferences from your refusal to reveal your vote.
    It is unlawful to be a willing participant in a vote-trading scheme, even if the vote being traded is your own. That is, you are not allowed even voluntarily to let your vote be used by someone else. This is because doing so is to give improper influence in the election to whomsoever you are selling your vote to.
    Secrecy in voting is NOT a matter of private choice. It is, and should be, a matter of public policy. Votes are not private, like medical records or banking transactions. they are SECRET, which is something totally different.
    In a paper ballot system, vote rigging is prevented by the fact that there are many pairs of eyes observing the process, watching votes being counted. If the people in charge of tallying the votes are cheating, it can be seen, because it is clear what each vote on each ballot paper means, even though no ballot paper can be traced to any individual voter.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    And what's to stop the swapping of ballots?

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Why is publishing evidence of your own vote a problem?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    It's a giant leap to make to say that because someone can choose to share the information that they can be compelled to do so. Even though vote buying is illegal, sharing who you vote for in no way enables vote buying as the possibility that votes can be bought still exists regardless.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 11:11am

    Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    If it is a societal act rather than an individual one, in the UK is the act of voting itself compulsory as a member of society?

     

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    Alex Macfie, May 25th, 2014 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    It's a problem because it means someone who is bribing/blackmailing you to vote in a particular way knows whether you have delivered your side of the deal. And since any such deals are illegal, even if the voter is a willing participant, this is not desirable. It's how we prevent vote-buying: make sure that it is impossible to know whether the seller has made the 'sale'.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 25th, 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    It's not a leap at all. If a voter refuses to share evidence about how they voted, then the person who is seeking this evidence (the vote buyer) can draw inferences from this: clearly the voter had something to hide! The only way to avoid this is to ensure that proving how you voted is not an option at all.

    There is no possibility of votes being bought if the buyer cannot know if the voter has delivered, because this renders any such transactions worthless.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 25th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    Abstention from voting can be taken as saying that you don't mind who is elected.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Images aren't easily altered on a phone huh? Have you looked at the apps in the App Store or on Google Play lately?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 7:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    I have news for you. Anyone engaged in such nefarious activity for which the penalties are quite extreme is not going to compel someone to publicly announce their vote. They are going to compel them to descreetly prove that they voted as was requested.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    That is another giant assumption to say that every person who doesn't vote doesn't mind. Many mind but do not like their choices and thus see it as an exercise in futility. Abstention is a failure to engage whatever the reason which as a member of society would be the antithesis of a societal act.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 9:27pm

    True tally

    That is the only way to get a completely accurate tally of the public's votes, but everybody has to do it. What are they going to put the entire population behind bars? Really? What are they afraid of? Maybe they can't make up the tally anymore? That would be rich.

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: That's not the point.

    Pencil? Really?
    Wow. That's not abuseable at all.
    I mean, it's better than electronic systems, but there's a reason large felt tip pens are used here.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 12:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Different reason

    It's the only way. And not just vote buying, coercion is another problem. If you look into history you will find capitalists forcing their factory workers to vote to their liking and similar practices.
    If you allow people to post proof of what they voted for, you will never, ever be able to prove that it was not done under duress of some kind. If someone pressures you to vote a certain way and to show proof, and you cave, obviously YOU won't tell the truth about it. Because inherently he has got something on you to make you do what he wants.
    No one is making it illegal to prove you went to vote, or to proclaim loudly and proudly what or whom you voted for. As long as you are not allowed to post proof, noone can coerce you OR buy you, because no one can verify if you did what you say you did.
    Without the prohibition of those photgraphs and similar 'what I voted for'-proofs the entire point of a secret ballot is annihilated. Therefor, this prohibition is a very, very important basic part of a free democracy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 4:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Which is why use of cameras should be forbidden in the voting booths.

     

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  77.  
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    Niall (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 4:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: That's not the point.

    It's pretty obvious, especially if the right type of pencil is used, to show that something was rubbed out and thus rendering the ballot spoiled.

    Damn, I think all the non-UKIP parties missed a trick ;)

     

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    Sacredjunk, May 26th, 2014 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not everyone has a smartphone. Not everyone knows how to download and use apps effectively on smartphones.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 4:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And of the percentage of people who do have smart phones, even fewer will actually bother to take and share a picture of their ballot anyway.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Where is the evidence that this is even happening? Doesn't the government have more important things to concern themselves with than a very small percentage of people sharing who they voted for on the Internet simply because of some misplaced paranoia over the idea that it could potentially be used somehow in a nefarious manner? Really?

     

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    Niall (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    Freedom of speech can be taken to ridiculous levels. Like it or not, there are restraints on speech, including safety laws, IP and voting protection laws, for instance.

     

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    Niall (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    My, you're an innocent. What makes you think that the moment this became legal every corp in the world wouldn't be 'hinting' to its staff that 'voting for the black guy would lost jobs'?

    And you obviously know nothing of places like italy (or New Jersey) where the Mafia would be very interested in making you show evidence of your ballot. I'm pretty sure many countries in Africa or Arabia would become very unhealthy for 'honest' voters too.

    Honestly, for some people it's really "freedumb" of speech. But hey, your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries, you filthy english kniggit!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Here's the problem with that logic. There are already plenty of applicable laws against the intimidation that you fear this will lead to. What this is actually doing is turning the law around so that the government can go after alleged citizens exercising their free speech rights out of a fear that they will be intimidated into exercising those rights for the purpose of manipulating the election process. This akin to prosecuting a person for wearing provocative clothing out of the fear that by wearing such clothing they may become a victim of rape. It is turning the law against the potential victim out of a fear that a crime may occur instead of focusing on those who actually do commit those sorts of crimes.

    If votes are secret, by your definition, then merely telling someone, how you voted would have to be a crime. Sharing how someone else voted without their consent would be an altogether different matter. I know others have said that it is customary that people there don't share who they vote for which is all the more reason why this is silly as a very small percentage of people that go against that is not likely to have much if any affect on the outcome anyway.

    Also, photography absolutely is speech.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    But that law doesn't do that either. It only prevents the sharing of that data which is prior restraint on free speech. Technically, the knowledge of how you plan to vote and the knowledge of how you actually voted are two completely different pieces of information, the second of which you obtained while you were there casting the ballot. So if we take the issue of camera's out of the equation, technically simply telling someone how you voted would be in violation of that statute as it is written.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 6:57am

    "The culture of politics today is so completely open for discussion"

    LOL. Can you really say that with a straight face? I bet you can't.

     

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  86.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re:

    Wow, leave it to the lawyers to completely ignore all of the context of a law that so clearly is intended to apply to everyone at the polls observing others as they vote to twist it to violate the free speech rights of the individual voter. But then again we are talking about a place where they attempt to prosecute people just because someone gets butthurt so why should we be surprised?

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re:

    And in such a case, there would likely be evidence of such attempted coercion, if nothing else, several corroborating witnesses to such a communication that could be used to prosecute the employer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    No argument there about the fact that free speech CAN be taken to ridiculous levels (see... Citizens United in the US) and restrictions on free speech can also be taken to ridiculous levels. Absolutely the use of bribery and/or coercion to manipulate the outcomes of the democratic process should for very good reason be against the law and people who engage in such actions should be prosecuted, however, it is a giant stretch to say that because some hypothetical potential for that to occur exists, we should prosecute people for engaging in free speech on the matter. We don't prosecute people for the potential to commit a crime. We prosecute them for actually committing a crime. Where is the evidence if any that these individuals were engaged in such activity?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    I was specifically referring to THIS case. Yes I know illegal manipulations occur and when they do the evidence that they have needs to be examined and the people responsible need to be prosecuted. Where is the evidence that these people were being coerced or paid to vote and publish the ballot to prove it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Besides, it is far more effective to have people infiltrate the tallying process in order to manipulate an election than it is to try to pay or coerce voters.

    And I'm not English. I'm American.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Your analogy with provocative clothing and rape will not do. Rape is inherently a crime against an individual. Stealing votes or impeding people from voting is not just a crime against the individual, it is a crime against the secret ballot. As I stated elsewhere, the right to vote in secret is not merely a private right (like the right to, say, not be raped regardless of what clothes you are wearing), it is a PUBLIC right, that is given to people in order that they can fulfill a societal duty. Therefore, compulsion in voting secrecy is not some nannyish measure to victimise individuals who publicise their voting habits, it is a measure to ensure the integrity of the voting process itself.

    "If votes are secret, by your definition, then merely telling someone, how you voted would have to be a crime."

    No, of course it wouldn't. Only PROVING to someone else how you voted has to be a crime. If I just tell someone else how I voted, there is no way of knowing whether I am telling the truth. I could tell me wife that I voted Labour, my workmates that I voted Conservative and my parents that I voted UKIP, if I so wished. No more than one of these could possibly be true (maybe none are and I voted Lib Dem). The ability to prove how you voted is what violates the secret ballot, and it is what matters for coercion or bribery.

    Sharing how someone else voted without their consent would be an altogether different matter.

    No, it's the same thing. It would be a crime if I were able to prove how they voted. But if I merely told my mate John that my friend Jane had voted Labour, that is not a crime because I have no idea whether it is actually true or not. She might not be very pleased with me, but that's just a matter of social etiquette.

    a very small percentage of people that go against that is not likely to have much if any affect on the outcome anyway

    That depends on the closeness of the result. In a closely fought election, a few dozen stolen votes may determine the outcome of the election. There is no number of stolen votes that is acceptable in an election. We have to keep it to the smallest possible number, and that means closely monitoring the secrecy of the ballot, and yes, punishing violators.

    Photography absolutely is speech

    I never said it wasn't, and this is irrelevant to the question. The point is that some abrogation of freedom of speech (by disallowing dissemination of proof of how someone, including oneself, has voted) is necessary in order to maintain the secrecy of the ballot, as it is in certain other circumstances.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    technically simply telling someone how you voted would be in violation of that statute as it is written

    NO IT IS NOT. In fact your last sentence contradicts what you wrote before. I can tell someone how I voted, but I could be lying. It is NOT USEFUL as information about how I voted. PROOF of how I voted is information.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    When someone provides proof of how they or anyone else voted, the violation of the secret ballot IS the crime. Not a hypothetical or potential crime, but an ACTUAL crime. I don't know whether you are the same as any of the other ACs posting along the same lines as your post, but it is clear that you do not understand that secret voting is not a private right, that individuals can choose to waive if they so wish, but a public right, to ensure the integrity of the voting process.
    On a practical level, ensuring that people cannot bring mobile phones into the voting booth, along with the threat of punishment against those who do photograph their completed ballot paper, is effective as a way of preventing voter coercion involving requirement to email/tweet pictures of completed ballot papers. It is in the interests of the voting stewards to ensure that such crimes are not committed in the voting booth, and they should watch the behaviour of voters and intervene when a voter appears to be photographing a ballot paper. This need not mean prosecution: the steward could just tear up the photographed ballot paper, issue a new one and ask the voter to delete the photograph. In this case it is unlikely that any prosecutions will occur simply because the crime will have been prevented.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem with this, as in many other similar situations, is the difficulty of obtaining such evidence. Victims of coercion of this kind are unlikely to complain, because the complaint itself is likely to result in victimisation by the employer, and because the theft of the person's vote is unlikely to matter to them as much as their livelihood.
    And anyway the principal crime is against the voting process, not against the individual whose vote is stolen. It is a crime to voluntarily sell a vote as well. When proof is provided of how someone has voted, a crime has been committed, regardless of the circumstances. This means that it is necessary to prevent, as far as possible, all occurrences of such cases.

     

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    Alex Macfie, May 26th, 2014 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    You clearly do not understand how the counting process works in the UK. Ballot boxes are sealed at the end of voting and transported by people who do not have access to the locks, which are tamper-evident anyway. They are then emptied at the counting location. There, each candidate has its own counting agents who scrutinise the count. These people are independent of each other, and independent of the people who are employed by the Returning Officer to count the ballots.
    Manipulation is no doubt possible, but it would require large-scale collusion between independent individuals, and would be observable.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    This report is not about actual prosecutions, but about the threat of prosecution. No prosecutions have actually happened, and they probably would not, since the possibility of prosecution for photographing a completed ballot paper would lead to polling stewards ensuring that people who appear to be photographing their ballot papers are prevented from doing so (or have their ballot papers reissued).

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    But according to the law, sharing of the proof of one's vote is the crime whether it is done publicly or "discreetly". So yours is a non-point.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Assuming some hard-ass cop wants to try it on, I very much doubt any CPS lawyer would try it.

    I think the clarification that the law does apply to sending photos of ballot papers is intended to ensure that polling stewards intervene to prevent this happening before the crime has occurred. So it is unlikely to even get to a CPS lawyer's desk because it would have been prevented before it happened. Only someone who stubbornly insisted on photographing their ballot paper, and not taking a fresh one from the steward, could possibly be prosecuted.

     

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    GEMont, May 26th, 2014 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The whole point is that "the secret ballot" was not really meant to do what everyone believes.

    It is touted as a means of protection - to keep bad guys from knowing how you voted and causing you grief because of it - to keep your boss from firing you for not voting for his candidate for example.

    The truth is that there are already laws on the books to deal with the sorts of crimes that "the secret ballot" pretends to prevent.

    The "secret" ballot merely allows the count to be fudged without consequences. If nobody knows I voted for AAAA then my vote can be counted for BBBB, or CCCC and nobody will be the wiser. This is the purpose of the secret ballot. In other words, "the secret ballot" allows the vote counters to play the election any way they want.

    "The Secret Ballot" is not some sacred law handed down by God. It is a trick pony handed down by politicians and businessmen, to insure that voting will not interfere with business as usual.

    ---

     

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    GEMont, May 26th, 2014 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    "It would also mean that everyone would know how everyone else voted, so there would be no secret ballot. so it is a damned good thing that it will never be allowed."

    Why? The secret ballot has never prevented any of the things it is purported to prevent. Voter crime is merely the venue of the politician and his corporate owners, who, having no restrictions preventing them from counting the votes as they please, run the elections like a good ad campaign.

    There are already a shitload of laws in operation today to deal with all of the crimes currently associated with voter coercion.

    All the Secret Ballot does is prevent the voter from verifying that his/her vote was counted properly, exactly as planned.

    You seem to think that this Secret Ballot thing is somehow sacred. It was devised and installed by businessmen, not by angels. It was designed specifically to turn every vote into any vote, usable by the counters to either add where they wanted or discard altogether, without consequences, since nobody can verify a votes origin or existence.

    As for your "any fool" reference, how many fools get to see the actual collecting and counting in action? Especially now that we have electronic counting - a process that can be manipulated by anyone with a password and access to the counting device, such as the manufacturer of the device, or his politician friends.

    How does anyone verify that the counters were not coerced/paid/hired, or in the case of mechanicals, designed to fake the count?

    They cannot. Precisely the point of the secret ballot. It makes voting simply a part of business as usual - totally manipulable by the powers that be without consequence. It makes the vote as useless as prayer to the Pink Dragon of Wonderland.

    Put a name on the vote and show the tally publicly, and you eliminate the possibility of vote fraud, by letting everyone see exactly where their ballot ended up and doing the count themselves. This will never be allowed, simply because it would make voting a useful tool for the people to choose good government.

    In my experience, those who appear to be most adamant about the necessity of the Secret Ballot, always turn out to be those who have the most to lose if the voting/ballot process becomes verifiable.

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    GEMont, May 26th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Vote Buying is illegal.

    That means there are laws to deal with those who attempt to do such things - and all it takes to get a company in trouble would be one employee blowing the whistle.

    The ONLY way Vote Buying is useful is if hundreds of thousands or millions of people are coerced/paid to vote a specific way, and only if ALL the criminal Vote Buying operations are aiming at electing the same candidate.

    And only one disgruntled voter is needed to blow the lid off such an operation.

    Where is the fear??

    Make these laws nasty - a vote buying/coercing company loses its license and is dissolved, its members disallowed from starting a new business for ten years, after they get out of prison ten years later. Splash their names all over the news and the web so that everyone knows who they are and how they operate. These people are after all doing the whole nation a disservice, weakening the entire country.

    The members of any non-corporate vote buying operation receive ten years in prison and a 250,000.00 fine, with no parole.

    That should be enough to allow even totally paranoid Secret Vote enthusiasts (who are not just political/corporate shills) to relax their sphincters a bit.

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    So you don't like rape as an analogy? Ok, it doesn't have to be. How about we pass a law that makes it a crime for people to leave the door to their house unlocked under the premise that it invites people to commit burglary? And an increase in burglary rates in a given area drive down the value of the property for property owners in that area and drive up insurance rates as well. Now consider that this is the UK we art talking about, where they pass laws criminalizing things that simply hurts anyone else's feelings, (and fear is without a doubt a negative feeling) the fear others will face due to the fact that the burglary rate increases in the area because someone simply can't be bothered to lock their doors like everyone else, simply will not do. So let's go ahead an punish people for exercising free speech based on a mere speculation that criminality committed by others that would victimize them primarily - after all, THEY would be the ones that would be the target of such coercion - despite absolutely no evidence that such criminality is even taking place in this case. Yeah, that makes a WHOLE lot of sense there.

    Furthermore, where does the statute say anything about proof? It says "communicate to any person" which would seem to include talking to people about it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    My point here is that if you read the law and apply the CONTEXT under which it is written, it clearly is intended to apply to people who observe others voting, (ie. the people helping to work the polls, primarily). However, if you take the lawyer view and throw out the context basing your argument solely on the specific wording used, you can make the argument that it applies to a voter simply communicating how they voted to just about anyone in just about any way imaginable.

     

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    GEMont, May 26th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Vote Counting is 100% controllable by the bad guys.

    All it takes is a lot of money to pay of a few individuals at key points in the process. This is why the most common manipulators are businesses and politicians. One has huge annual profits to draw from and the other simply digs into the tax payer's pocket.

    -A sealed box from a district that is normally 80% plus for the enemy candidate is simply lost in transit.
    -Sealed Ballot Boxes can be opened and Resealed by the same process that Sealed them originally.
    -The counters and their overseers can be bribed, paid, coerced, or even hired to do whatever one needs.

    I'm certain that criminals will come up with many far more brilliant methods of getting around any so-called security devised to prevent the ballots from being tampered with.

    When it comes to electronic counting there is absolutely nothing to prevent manipulation of the tally and no way to prove manipulation occurred.

    The real problem here is that with a SECRET BALLOT, there is no way to know that any of these criminal activities have occurred. Manipulation, even when discovered, cannot actually be proven, since there is no way to account for all the votes in the first place.

    A tally is useless unless there is a way to verify the precise counting of every individual ballot to the voting public, and to prove that manipulation has occurred when it does. This is precisely the sort of verification that the Secret Ballot was designed to prevent.

    ---

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    And there is absolutely noting in there about forbidding cameras in voting booths.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    The point there is that making a big deal about someone choosing to publish their own vote to suggest that they were doing so to get paid for voting a certain way is silly as anyone engaging in such behavior would be publishing it anyway. You need to be careful because that's a really slippery slope your on there and we wouldn't want you to hurt yourself.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    Where does it say anything there in that law about forbidding phones or photographs? Other than the violation of this particular law, which is based on a reading of it that involves removing the context under which it appears, what evidence is there of ANY other crime here?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    It's much easier, cheaper, efficient, and effective to pay off all of those who are in charge of "observing" than it is to buy off millions of voters.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2014 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    And so the government threatening people with prosecution despite no evidence of any attempt to manipulate the election process is ok so long as there aren't any actual prosecutions then right? In a country that attempts to legislate the protection of people's feelings, that seems mighty hypocritical don't you think?

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    The burglary analogy has the same flaw as the rape one: that it is principally a crime against an individual. Yes, there are effects on society as well, but the same can be said for rape, and these are indirect effects, as opposed to the direct effect on the actual victims.
    Once again, stolen votes do NOT primarily victimise the people whose votes are stolen, but the VOTING PROCESS ITSELF. It is NOT primarily a crime against an individual. If we decide that the right to keep a vote secret is simply a private matter of individual choice, then the case for banning vote trading among consenting parties disappears completely: why should I, as a voter, be prevented from voluntarily entering into an agreement with someone else where I am paid some money to vote for that person's preferred candidate, and to prove that I have delivered send them my completed ballot paper? After all, it's my vote and I can do what I want with it, isn't it?
    Well no it isn't. Not in that sense. Using someone else's vote is no less a crime if the person agrees to their vote being used. And the person who agrees to it is also committing a crime. This is because everyone loses when some people are using other people's votes: the principal direct victim is the secret ballot, the voting process.

    "Information" about how someone has voted DOES involve proof. Telling someone how I voted is NOT giving them "information", because I COULD BE LYING. It is only information if it INFORMS. This means actual EVIDENCE, not just someone's word.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 26th, 2014 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    We don't have electronic counting in this country, so your comment on that is irrelevant. We use pencil and paper, and (in most places) manual counting. So your comments on that are irrelevant. BTW I am implacably opposed to electronic voting/counting, and I hope it never finds its way into this country (it has been trialled and rejected before).
    You haven't a clue about how and why the Secret Ballot was introduced. Before it, voters were coerced by their employers/landlords to ensure that they voted the "right" way; if they didn't, the next day they could find themselves out of a job or off their land. If you had your way, we would be going back to that state of affairs.
    You check for corruption among election workers the same sort of way as you check for corruption anywhere else. this really isn't an issue. And systematic mis-filing of votes is something that ca be identified because the count happens before the eyes of the candidates' observers.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 2:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    No, it is intended to apply to ANY violation of the secret ballot, which is to say any PROOF about how someone, whether oneself or anyone else, has voted. You are the one lawyering by asserting that it could apply to just telling someone how you voted, when that is NOT the intention and is NOT the meaning.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Both analogies were intended to be compared to coercion which is a crime primarily against the individual and secondarily against society.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 4:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Not exactly. When I read it and interpret it I see the context clearly. I merely point out how if you remove that context and focus just on the specific words used, you can twist the meaning of it.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 5:31am

    The secret ballot allows people to vote according to their consciences without consequences.

    This is absolute rubbish. You can SEE the votes being sorted, counted and piled up. All candidates have their own counting agents who observe the count, and would report any irregularity in counting (their own votes going onto someone else's pile). If this happens systematically, then it can be investigated by the police.
    In the UK, the secret ballot was introduced by the Ballot Act of 1872; before that it was commonplace for employers and landlords to check how their employees and tenants voted. It was one of the Chartist demands (along with universal male suffrage and others) and was opposed by establishment politicians, landowners and some industrialists, because it would remove their influence over the votes of those in their power.
    The secret ballot allows people to vote according to their consciences without consequences.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The truth is that there are already laws on the books to deal with the sorts of crimes that "the secret ballot" pretends to prevent.

    But these crimes typically happen 'behind closed doors', in households or among community groups (often, tho' not exclusively, based on ethnicity); or in situations where the victim is economically dependent on the person who wants to improperly influence their vote. In these situations, the victims are not going to be inclined to complain. In any case, questions of legality alone will not prevent people from doing things they are not supposed to. And how do you settle disputes about election results after the fact, if there has been sufficient voter coercion to change the result? Better to prevent it from happening at all, by ensuring that there is no way the landlord/employer/householder/community leader can ever know whether the voter has voted according to instructions.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    But coercion is not the only form of electoral fraud, as it is a crime even *willingly* to give your vote away to someone else. Regardless of how the fraud is committed, the crime is primarily one against society, which is why voting secrecy needs to be sacrosanct.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Money transfers can be tracked, especially if there is any sense of scale so in the case of vote buying, there is likely going to some sort of paper trail. And again is there any evidence of this going on here?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 8:02am

    Re: The secret ballot allows people to vote according to their consciences without consequences.

    And laws against compelling people to reveal their vote and revealing other people's votes protect against all that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    I think his point is that although mandated transparency may enable one form of corruption, mandated opacity enables a completely different form of corruption.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As if efforts to manipulate the tallying process don't happen "behind closed doors". Riiiiiight.

     

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    Alex Macfie, May 27th, 2014 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: The secret ballot allows people to vote according to their consciences without consequences.

    Laws backed up by a mechanism that ensures secrecy.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is FAR easier to police the tallying process (which is a specific process and happens in specific locations at specific times, involving specific people) than it is to police random instances of voter fraud, which could happen anywhere to anyone and by anyone if the circumstances in which the vote is cast are not controlled and secret.

    So OF COURSE they don't happen behind closed doors.

     

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  124.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, it is intended to protect the secret ballot, i.e. prevent ANY instances where people show proof of how someone has voted. That includes the voter himself.

     

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  125.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    We have freedom of speech enshrined under the ECHR. But that is nothing to do with voting secrecy (ECHR also guarantees the right to a secret ballot).

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    But the use of camera phones in a voting booth likely means you are about to disseminate information about (by which I mean proof of) how you voted. What else would you be using them for?

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    My point is not that people who publish their votes are necessarily selling them, it is that the OPTION OF PUBLISHING THEIR VOTE SHOULD NOT BE AVAILABLE IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE CAN'T SELL THEIR VOTES. It is not a slippery slope, or if it is, we all fell right down it when the Ballot Act was passed in 1872, with the specific intention of making vote-buying and selling impossible by ensuring that no-one could prove how they voted EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO. The facvt that mobile with cameras now exist making it technically easier to publish one's own vote does not mean that the secret ballot is somehow an old-fashioned concept that has not kept up with the times. It means we have to be extra-vigilant against potential abuses of the voting process using new technology.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    I mean the crime of disseminating proof of your vote.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    No, you are interperting it based on your OWN assumption that abrogation of voting secrecy only matters when it is against the voter's wishes. This is WRONG. It is the PURPOSE of electoral law to ensure that it is NEVER possible to prove how someone has voted, even with the voter's consent.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Voting is a societal act, not an individual one

    My response was to this specific part of your previous comment...

    "On a practical level, ensuring that people cannot bring mobile phones into the voting booth, along with the threat of punishment against those who do photograph their completed ballot paper, is effective as a way of preventing voter coercion involving requirement to email/tweet pictures of completed ballot papers."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    As is usually the case, the answer is almost always MORE SPEECH not less. Opacity and secrecy are the tools of the those who wish to manipulate the system for their own benefit without the spoilage of sunlight. That opacity and secrecy is maintained often maintained by unsupported FUD which is regurgitated by the Kool-Aid drinkers who refuse to see the truth.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Perhaps a person has poor vision and is using the camera phone to aid reading the text. I have in fact done this on occasion - albeit not in a voting booth - in order to read very small text that now had trouble making out.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    You probably don't have to buy off millions of voters to steal an election. You only need to buy off enough to tilt the balance, and that depends on the closeness of the result. It could be thousands, or it could be less than 100.
    Paying off the candidates' counting agents and other independent observers is certainly possible, but I think it is much easier to detect and expose than bribing or blackmailing voters. The latter tends to take place outside the gaze of anyone involved in policing elections, and it may also be informal, meaning there is little or no proof that any fraud has actually taken place. If it has been merely suggested verbally to someone that they might consider voting for X otherwise there would be consequences, what evidence is there of wrongdoing? Bribery of election officials, on the other hand, is very straightforward to detect and prosecute.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    I have said from the beginning that according to the context of the entire statue it is clearly meant to address people who observe how others vote. Hanging on the fact that it uses the specific words "No person" to say that it applies to even the voters about their own votes is ignoring the context and if you are going to take that sort of pedantic approach to argue over the literal meaning of the words like a weasel wording lawyer, then you might as well go all the way with that and accept that it uses the words communicating any information obtained which would include the specific knowledge of who you voted for even by verbal means as how you intended to vote beforehand and how you actually voted in the past tense are literally two completely different pieces of information even if they are consistent with one another. Also if only evidence is banned, is it then ok for someone there to verbally communicate someone else's vote to others? After all, as you say, without evidence, the person could easily be lying which apparently by your theory would make it ok.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Really? So anyone can just walk in and watch the entire tallying process from start to finish, huh?

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    All of these things can happen, but actually they are quite easy to detect and prosecute. For instance, if a box is lost in transit, and cannot be found, then the election is void, and it is known who was supposed to have handled them and they can be questioned. Unsealing and resealing can be detected as well. So can bribery of election officials. All these things leave evidence behind, and all can be prosecuted. In the counting process, we know where things like ballot papers and boxes are supposed to be, and who is supposed to be handling them, and if they are not there, and not being handled by the people who should be handling them, then we know that something has gone wrong and it can be investigated by the relevant authorities.
    Fraud involving individual voters (vote buying, coercion) outside designated voting areas is not so easy to detect or prosecute, simply because it can occur anywhere, and there may be no evidence for it (e.g. a verbal nudge-nudge, wink-wink fraud). We can't police all households to ensure that no householders are coercing other members of their household to vote in a particular way, for instance. Therefore, it is much more effective to police the whole process in whcih voting is done, to ensure that it happens in secret and is counted transparently.

    As for electronic counting, well of course you're right about that, but in the UK we don't have electronic counting and I absolutely oppose it. I support pen(cil)&paper voting and manual counting because the process is observable and the votes are collectively (but not individually, by intention) verifiable. The secret ballot was invented in the 19th century to PREVENT voter intimidation and bribery. The idea that it was intended to prevent "verification" is utter nonsense.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    And that one whistle blower might then be fired from his job, and find himself unemployable as a result of his activity. So it may not be possible even to find ONE. And anyway by the time the company is exposed a few elections may have gone by, and their results may or may not have been altered by the corporate voter buying activity. so the horse has bolted. How do you put right a wronged election? Re-run it, maybe, at huge expense, but the political circumstances will have changed. Ask people what they intended to vote in such-and-such an election? Would they even remember? Most people who are not politically aware don't remember how they voted last time around. Harsh punishment of voter fraud is all very well, but there is no effective way of putting right what has been done wrong. That is why PREVENTION of electoral fraud is important.

    And no, voter fraud does not need to involve "hundreds of thousands or millions of people". It almost certainly needs many fewer, depending on the closeness of the contest. It may need only a few dozen. It's not all the votes across the entire election that matter, only the few swing votes that make a difference between one candidate and another winning. Consider the 'hanging chad' controversy. I recall there were only a few hundred votes in contention there, but this tiny fraction of the total vote made the difference between Gore and Bush winning.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    The vote counting process is not opaque (when done using pencil&paper and counted manually). Anyone can watch what is happening, and see the votes piled up with the marks in the right places.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I thought the stated purpose of the secret ballot was to protect the election. Now your saying that it itself needs protection by the law. But who will protect the law from the lawyers and politicians?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    In theory yes. However that would only happen in a very close race. As the sorts of manipulation you are worried about would have to be planned and set up long before the election even started when the people who want to manipulate it would have no way of knowing how close it was going to be, that would be an awful big gamble on their part, especially when the whole reason why the people who try to rig elections do so is because they don't want to gamble on the chance that their cause might lose.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    I thought you said it was secret. Secrecy is another word for opacity. Transparency is the antithesis of that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    The Bush/Gore election is not a good example for you to cite. The allegations there centered around the way the votes were handled after they had been cast, not the sort of corruption you are suggesting which actually supports his point.

     

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  143.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    FFS. The counting process itself is obervable. In that sense it is transparent (any irregularity is evident). But the votes themselves cannot be traced to any individual, so individually they are secret. But collectively, they are verifiable.

     

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  144.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Are you really this thick or are you being deliberately obtuse? The secret ballot is itself a law, and of course laws are needed to make sure it works properly. It's the same as with any other statutory measure.
    But who will protect the law from the lawyers and politicians?

    Now that's going completely off onto a tangent, as it could apply to practically any law.

     

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  145.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In the UK, anyone can apply to attend a count. There are limits to how many people can be admitted (principally due to space) and it's ticket-only but it's open to any member of the public.

     

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  146.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    I used Gore/Bush as an example of how a small number of votes, and how they were interpreted, ultimately decided the election. I did not intend to suggest that there was any corruption involved in that case. My point was that if someone does want to manipulate an election result, they may only need to influence a small number of votes to do so successfully.

     

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  147.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    What about the time between when the ballots are cast and they are counted?

     

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  148.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: The secret ballot allows people to vote according to their consciences without consequences.

    In theory.

     

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  149.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    Verifiable vote is not allowed

    If you follow opinion polls and keep your ear on the ground for local political opinion then you probably have a good idea of where the wind is blowing and how many voters need to be bought/blackmailed and who they might be.
    And remember also that people like big employers, landlords and ethnic community leaders may well be able to control large numbers of voters anyway, without spending much money.

     

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  150.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There's your weak point. It's not hard to control who gets a ticket and who doesn't.

     

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  151.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Stop being a snide sneery moron. You know perfectly well what I meant. And I don't support legislation to "protect people's feelings".

     

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  152.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    The boxes are sealed and transported to the counting venue. The people carrying the boxes do not have access to them. They can only be opened at the count.

     

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  153.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's also not hard to prevent and stamp out improper influence over who gets access.

     

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  154.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    So sloganeering are we? We secret ballot supporters want to manipulate voting by, er, making sure that is impossible to find out how anyone voted, so there cannot be consequences for anyone voting the "wrong" way.

     

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  155.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    No, mot exactly. I think you are just misled. I think your intentions are good, however you buy wholesale into a concept that restricts the freedoms of others not based on any evidence that that those others are involved in any nefarious activity but rather the mere speculation that they could potentially be involved in some nefarious activity.

     

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  156.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 6:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    I didn't say you supported that. I said your government did.

     

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  157.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    And it appears you are supporting the fact that they are threatening people with prosecution even if there is no evidence of nefarious activity and no actual prosecution.

     

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  158.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 6:59pm

    Nope

    No, you buy wholescale into a concept that claims openness but actually leads to loss of freedom. The secret ballot does NOT restrict freedom, unless you mean the freedom to manipulate elections.

     

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  159.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Nope

    It is by definition a restriction on freedom of expression which is important in a democracy for political discourse. You say the reason is to prevent unfair manipulation of the free election process, which would be a valid argument except that you fail to provide any evidence that any such manipulation is even occurring.

     

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  160.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If your so sure that the system is so fool proof what makes you so sure that this isn't happening?

     

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  161.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 9:23pm

    Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    If you follow opinion polls published by entities that have their own agendas, seeking to influence the outcome by publishing such polls and cannot see the manipulation therein, I can see where you would think that.

     

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  162.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Do you deny that the laws are manipulated by lawyers and politicians for their own personal gain?

     

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  163.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2014 @ 9:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    And does the public have free access to observe and verify this part of the process?

     

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  164.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Probably not, but why is this necessary? Any tampering with the ballot boxes during this part of the process is detectable. Any irregularity that cannot be corrected means the election is voided. There really isn't an issue here. It is not much different from transporting securely any other item.

     

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  165.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Cash transactions cannot be tracked. But again that is not the point. The purpose of the secret ballot system is to PREVENT electoral fraud. To talk about the need for evidence of vote buying before preventing it is to miss the point. Preventing a crime means there it doesn't happen, and there is therefore no evidence for it.
    Do you lock your door before you leave your house? I suspect so. But by your logic it's OK to leave your front door wide open because there's no evidence of any burglaries in your area.

     

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  166.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    End of story

    No, it is intended to mean any information that provides proof about how SOMEONE voted. It doesn't matter who that person is. And yes, it is OK just to just verbally communicate how someone (might have) voted, because this IS NOT INFORMATION ABOUT HOW SOMEONE VOTED.
    Look there is no point in carrying on this discussion. You, for whatever reason, are against the secret ballot, perhaps because you want to be able to influence other people's votes. You are therefore using sophistry to defend your position. I'm not interested in debating thsi with you, Mr Anonymous Coward. End of story.

     

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  167.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: Nope

    The whole point of the secret ballot is to PREVENT unfair manipulation. Your suggestion would make the system open to it.

     

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  168.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Nope

    One can't provide evidence of something that a system is preventing if the preventive measure is successful.
    What is most important in democracy is that each person's vote is based on their own choice, which means that it should not be possible for anyone else to influence it, whcih means it needs to be cast in secret. You have an agenda against the secret ballot, and are using "freedom of expression" as a canard to pretend that somehow preventing improper influence of people's voting is an attack on democracy, when you are the one who wants to attack democracy by enabling vote buying and other electoral fraud.

     

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  169.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am not sure. It is not possible to be 100% sure that any attack on our democratic rule-of-law system is not happening. But this applies to anything. You don't need to be 100% sure: just sure enough that the system works better than any other system might. The scope for fraud in a well-run secret ballot system is much less than in a non-secret system. And that is what matters. If 100% certainty that a system is working is the requirement, then all systems fail. What matters is that the system works better than any other.

     

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  170.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, but how does this specifically apply to laws protecting the secret ballot?

     

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  171.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    This has got nothing to do with manipulation of the secret ballot process.

     

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    GEMont, May 28th, 2014 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    "It may need only a few dozen. "

    Good grief man. If the crooks know in advance that they only need 12 votes to swing the race, then the crooks already have the election itself rigged or they would have no way to know such a thing.

    Your logic is circular. There is no way to know with accuracy the "closeness" of a political race, unless you have actually rigged the race and know the results in advance.

    To claim that watching the polls and adding up the TV pundit reports will let you know that you only need to fudge 12 votes is probably the silliest fantasy I've read here to date.

    You seem to be almost alone in your nearly religious fervor over the vast importance of the secret ballot to produce honest governing, yet this same process is now being adopted by numerous dictator-based nations around the world to placate their abused public, while keeping the same assholes in power.

    Methinks ye doth protest too loudly.

     

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  173.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Another point about improper influence in public voting that has not been addressed yet is that it need not be an organised operation by a company / government / political group. It could be informal, like peer pressure, or being leant on by community leaders. You might change your opinion of your friend if you find they voted a different way from you. You might say you wouldn't, but are you honest with yourself about that? If people modify their voting behaviour because of any fears about what the people around them (friends, family, colleagues, neighbours) would think about them if their honest vote is published, then improper influence has occurred. And it would be practically impossible to enforce any prohibition on behaviour that would lead to such influence (without closely circumscribing everyone's private communications, as in a police state).

    And another thought. Last month the CEO of a major software company was hounded out of his job after about a week because of a donation he had made to a particular political cause some years earlier. I personally am disturbed by campaigns against businesses based on the personal views of their directors (when said views do not affect how the business is run). If we had public voting, then we would start to see campaigns against prominent people (and perhaps even less prominent people) because of how they voted in public elections. Maybe you think it would be desirable to have a campaigns against a new corporate executive because (according to public voting records) he voted UKIP at the last election. However, this is exactly the sort of thing the secret ballot is designed to prevent.

    Public voting means that a person's vote may be used against them at any time. It need not be intentional, but whenever it happens, it is wrong. Secret voting means it can never happen.

     

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  174.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    The effect on an election of any one act of informal pressure on a voter to modify their public vote may be insignificant, but cumulatively all these effects will make a difference to the result of the election. How different, and in what way, is not clear. The point is that the result of the election with such pressure will be different from that without.

     

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  175.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:53pm

    Re: True tally

    It would mean that no-one's vote was their own, as it could be used against them at any time. You are hopelessly naïve if you think that this isn't going to happen in all sorts of ways if votes are made public.

     

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  176.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    I didn't say anything about knowing in advance. My point is that rigging an election doesn't necessitate shifting millions of votes. Anyway your assumption that improper influence is only about large-scale organised operations with a specific intent is flawed as I describe in another post (it could be the cumulative effect of informal pressure on people to vote some way other than the way they really intend to). There is also the issue of the use against people of how they voted. You really are hopelessly naïve if you think this isn't going to happen.

     

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    GEMont, May 28th, 2014 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Once again your whole argument balances on this idea that the ballots are safe and secure between casting and counting, and my whole argument is that there is no such thing as absolute security when there is a shitload of cash to be made.

    Your faith in the system is touching, but it is precisely that kind of faith that allows criminals to make their living.

    Any area of the system that people "believe" to be secure is exactly the area of the system that criminals will exploit.

    You may know a lot about Why and When the Secret Ballot was introduced in your country, but you really know sweet diddly about criminals and the lengths to which they will go for money and power - apparently.

    For instance, how much would it take to bribe the people who CHECK THE SEALS for tampering, after they arrive at the counting area??

    Oh and by the by, it is no longer 1813.
    Times have changed.
    People have changed.
    Jobs are no longer sacred.

     

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  178.  
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    GEMont, May 28th, 2014 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    "If we had public voting, then we would start to see campaigns against prominent people (and perhaps even less prominent people) because of how they voted in public elections. Maybe you think it would be desirable to have a campaigns against a new corporate executive because (according to public voting records) he voted UKIP at the last election."

    Good grief man, has your country no laws??

    When did it become legal to start a public or private campaign against any individual because of the way they voted on something political.

    Hell, if such activity is legally allowed in your country then you're absolutely right, your country needs a secret ballot - but know this, that your country will then always have shitty government making shitty laws like those because the secret ballot allows shitty government to thrive.

    How's that for circular logic eh. :)

     

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  179.  
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    GEMont, May 28th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Re: True tally

    "It would mean that no-one's vote was their own, as it could be used against them at any time."

    OK, now you've run this horse in a complete circle.

    If I sign my vote ballot, then my vote ballot is no longer my own....

    I think this conversation has pretty much run aground at this point. You're not even making minimal sense any more.

     

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  180.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 5:14pm

    Re: End of story

    I am not against secret ballots. I am against your definition of secret ballots which allows the state to infringe on the rights of it's citizens to freely engage in political discourse by sharing their position and actions on that position based on a fear of a hypothetical malfeasance when no evidence exists of such malfeasance even occurring. I am also against people taking a law which, from it's context, is clearly intended to apply to one situation, and twist it to restrict the rights of others in another completely different situation the trying to justify it with FUD.

     

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  181.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Enforcing the right to privacy in voting already ensures that without infringing on the individual's right to free expression.

     

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  182.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 5:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The entire point of this story is about the government taking a law that when read in context clearly applies to people observing others as they vote and twisting it to threaten individuals who are exercising a right to freedom of speech in expressing their own personal views based on mere speculation that some grave malfeasance could be committed without presenting any evidence that any malfeasance is actually being committed.

     

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  183.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    Is it then ok to mandate that people lock their doors and threaten to arrest people who fail to do so?

     

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  184.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Questions of legality don't come into it. It is what would happen, and it would often prove difficult to find who was behind such a campaign and punish them, as they will often be anonymous and/or will push their campaign through channels that are themselves illegal or underground, disappearing without trace once their work is done.
    And again, the mere threat of repercussions from voting in a particular way is likely to cause people to modify their vote, regardless of whether said reprecussions are legal or not. I wouldn't go using the argument "but you can get legal redress" around here; not when the issue of patent trolls often comes up, where the legal route of fighting trolls is so expensive that people settle even when they would ultimately win. Besides, the use of the law to punish activity that could easily be prevented from happening (in the sense of being made impossible) in the first place is like abortion as a form of contraception.

     

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  185.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Bribery of a specific person in charge of part of the voting process is (relatively) easy to detect, as is any monkey-business by election officials. Bribery of J Random Voter is not so easy to detect.
    Who said anything about having "absolute security"? I didn't. Of course there will always be ways the system can be exploited or corrupted, the point about the secret ballot is that there is a limited arena where these problems can happen, so they are relatively easy to investigate when irregularities do occur.
    Oh and by the by, it is no longer 1813.

    How touching. Clearly in the 21st century we now have Human Race 2.0, in which everyone is enlightened and no-one would ever seek to turn someone out of a job for voting for the wrong candidate, and anyway we don't need jobs as we can all live off the trees and the flowers. Come off it, who's the one with blind faith here? I don't have faith that the voting process will always work, I KNOW there are criminals who would seek to exploit it. I know voter fraud happens, it makes the news, and people get convicted and punished for it. Do you know why this happens? Because the system has checks in place such that it is possible to detect such fraud and identify the source of it. Yet you are saying that modern-day people are so enlightened that they would never seek to use someone's vote against them. Values of society change, but people don't fundamentally change. Before the secret ballot, the practice of using people's votes against them happened BECAUSE IT WAS POSSIBLE. If it becomes possible again, it will start to happen again.

     

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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    I have explained this already. The right to secure and safeguard your property is a private right; the secret ballot is a public right whose abrogation directly affects everyone, not just the affected voter.

     

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  187.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: True tally

    I have already explained what I mean. Please don't be so obtuse and claim you don't know it. If people publicly sign their vote, it can be used against them.

     

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  188.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Re: End of story

    Its not hypothetical. It can happen and does happen. And it IS what the law was intended to stop.
    It is not up to the individual to decide whether to keep their vote secret or not, so get off your high horse about state interference.

     

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  189.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Also the kind of informal pressure I mentioned that may be put on people to vote a particular way may not be illegal, or laws against it may be practically unenforceable. If someone is socially ostracised by their friends, family or neighbours because of how they voted, it is doubtful if any crime has been committed because of this (we can choose whomsoever we want as our friends). But it is not desirable for the integrity of the ballot if the reason this is possible is that it can be proven how they voted. When this happens, voting inevitably passes from the individual to the group, and this is fundamentally unacceptable. Under the secret ballot system, you can lie about your vote rather than risk being cast out of your social group. Under the open voting system you support, a voter could be forced to choose between voting according to their conscience and their social/personal allegiances. This cannot be acceptable in a free and democratic society.

    However, I can see that you probably can't, or rather won't, understand how it is wrong that voting should be passed from individuals to groups in this way. Not with your silly conspiracy theory about why the secret ballot was set up, nor with your idealised view of society in which no-one would ever do anything like use someone else's vote against them. So there is little point in continuing this discussion with you.

     

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  190.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 5:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    But it's not just a "right to privacy". The voter is forbidden from allowing anyone else to help them fill in the ballot paper while in the voting booth. These alleged infringements on right to free expression are minor when set against the benefits of a truly secret ballot.

     

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  191.  
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    Alex Macfie (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is not "twisting the law". It is interpreting the law as intended, to ensure that voting remains secret.

     

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  192.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Pride in illusion of choice? That make me laugh.

     

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    GEMont, May 31st, 2014 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    "How touching. Clearly in the 21st century we now have Human Race 2.0, in which everyone is enlightened and no-one would ever seek to turn someone out of a job for voting for the wrong candidate, and anyway we don't need jobs as we can all live off the trees and the flowers. Come off it, who's the one with blind faith here?"

    Enlightened? Wrong candidate? Live off trees and flowers?

    OK. I can see this is indeed a religiously adhered-to fanatical belief system you're supporting here, when you start throwing whole buckets of straw-men into the ring.

    People are not as easily coerced as they used to be. So many of us now make our livings outside the system through non-traditional means that the old "lost job means death by starvation" syndrome you cling to is no longer sufficient to keeping all people silent.

    Of course, this may not be the case in your country, I don't know.

    Such things as - the Web - make it easy to report wrong doing by employers, and forensics tends to make your old-style club-wielding brown-shirt tactics a tad over-obvious today.

    I can see however that you cannot be convinced to examine your position by either logic or facts, so I will stop bothering you about that which you obviously hold sacred, lest you start accusing me of threatening to harm children and puppies in order to make you say bad things about voting.

    May your children live in interesting times.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  194.  
    identicon
    GEMont, May 31st, 2014 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: True tally

    Look, you appear to be genuinely concerned that the Vote System and You actually need to fear the notion of a signed vote becoming the way of the world.

    Please be advised that the chances of such a voting system ever being introduced, or even considered by any nation on earth is absolutely zero - actually more like -500.

    If the vote was capable of creating honest elections, it would be illegal, and the current voting system is favored by all criminals and career politicians as the best way to placate a public while maintaining access to their wealth, so it will never go away.

    You have nothing to fear from the idea of a signed vote as it will never ever be allowed to exist by the power that be.

    Your Secret Ballot is safe as long as criminals ride the top of the food chain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  195.  
    icon
    Alex Macfie (profile), Jun 1st, 2014 @ 4:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    You have admitted that you do hold to an idealised view of modern society in which no-one would ever seek to use anyone's vote against them so we don't need to worry about the consequences of open voting. Don't worry I'm not going to accuse of threatening to harm children or animals, however I am prepared to say you are a slightly ridiculous conspiracy theorist as far as your ideas about the motivations for introducing and maintaining the secret ballot are concerned.
    EVERYONE is making their living in the "system", however "non-traditional" you think your means are, they still involve interacting with people, maintaining a reputation, and all that stuff. Whether you are a 9-5 cubicle drone, running your own business or freelancing, your ability to get business depends to some extent on what others think of you, so you have to fear if your voting records are posted for all to see.
    "Such things as - the Web - make it easy to report wrong doing by employers, and forensics tends to make your old-style club-wielding brown-shirt tactics a tad over-obvious today."

    AGAIN you miss the point that reporting wrong doing after the fact is no substitute from ensuring that it cannot happen. You also ignore my point, stated elsewhere, that improper influence does not need to involve "club-wielding brown-shirt tactics", and such informal pressure on people either is not covered by any law, or otherwise the law against it is likely unenforceable.
    Also f*** your naïve techno-idealism. The Web is just as likely to be used as part of a campaign of improper influence of voting (as in the Brendan Eich case) as to "report" it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  196.  
    icon
    Alex Macfie (profile), Jun 1st, 2014 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: True tally

    No, I have no fear that an open "signed" voting system of the kind you advocate will ever happen (although I do fear electronic voting, with its inherent 'black box' counting, in contrast to the open transparent counting of pencil&paper voting with manual counting).
    But I do think your conspiracy theories about secret voting absurd; however, as you seem totally committed to them, there is little point in continuing this discussion, which in any case it is doubtful if anyone else is reading, as this thread came off the techdirt front page some days ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  197.  
    identicon
    Matt, May 5th, 2015 @ 8:47am

    Re: A very old and extremely good principle

    Soooo, how about if I decide NOT to vote for anyone? Say I decided that I could not support ANY of the parties, and decide instead to provide a little amusement to the counters, by drawing cocks instead of crosses in the boxes? I then cannot be said to have revealed who I have voted for, as I have not voted for anyone.

    How about I take a photo of the BLANK ballot paper, then I do my thing with the ballot paper spoiling. I then go away, use the photo to recreate the ballot paper in word, repeat my marking and then tweet a photo of that saying "this is how I voted" I have not published any "information obtained in a polling booth" because I have not used a photo, but I have published something that LOOKS exactly the same. Am I then liable for prosecution?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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