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.