Friday, February 18, 2011

LIKE SEAGULLS FOLLOWING A TRAWLER



In the majority of democratic countries around the world the proportion of the population that votes is generally declining as each election period comes and goes. Those of us who consider ourselves fortunate to live in democratic countries consider the right to cast a vote for our leadership as a fundamental part of our political framework.
The question, though, is what does our vote achieve for us? Do we have a real choice in the way our countries are governed, or are we just furnished with certain token rights to prolong the illusion that we can actually have any kind of influence?
Is the entire election process just a scam, designed to give the average person a sense of comfort, to make them feel they are able to make a difference when in fact politics and policies will just carry on as they would regardless?
“You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on”, George W Bush said in 2001.
There are several ways in which elections can effectively be manipulated without the vast majority of the country having the slightest clue or even so much as batting an eyelid:
1. To win an election a candidate needs a simple majority, in other words they must poll more votes that any other candidate. Where there are many candidates the person elected could actually be voted against by 60% or more of the electorate. In today’s media mad society, only the candidates from the 2 main political parties tend to gain any meaningful amount of coverage. This means that not only do they have their party’s financial backing but also free advertising too. How can candidates from minor parties even contemplate winning against that kind of advantage?
2. The 2 main political parties in any country receive funding from big business and rich donors. Often these people and organizations will effectively be backing both the main contenders, thereby meaning that any choice between candidates is fairly insignificant. If you believe that people elected to positions of power with the aid of external influence do not remember their benefactors then you are, perhaps, naive.
3. The ‘first past the post’ voting system effectively rules out the likelihood of any third political party ever gaining any meaningful level of influence within any politics.
4. Constituency boundaries are often redrawn, allegedly creating more ‘safe seats’ for the party currently in power. If you live in an area where one particular candidate is almost certain to win then voting against them achieves nothing.
5. Successive governments have worked hard to promote postal voting. Considering that the traditional method of voting in a balloting station is open to abuse, how much more likely is it that postal voting could be manipulated? When counting postal votes how do you even verify if the voter is living or dead without going through each and every form and checking it for authenticity?
6. Without publishing a comprehensive list of who everyone in the country chose to vote for, which in itself would have extreme consequences, how do you really know that the results have not been tampered with?
(Voting In A Democracy : A Definer Of Freedom Or A Comforting Scam? by Lee on September 3, 2007 in Consumer Fraud at security-faqs.com)
There is an important distinction to be made between postal voting and all-postal voting. There can be good and obvious reasons for allowing people to vote by post, but making everyone vote by post is perhaps a step too far.
In UK, Postal votes were first issued in 1918 for soldiers returning from the war. They then became gradually more available for health, disability and work reasons, and then, in 1985, for people who were on holiday. Until 2000, postal votes were only an option for those that could give a valid reason. The Representation of the People Act 2000 changed that, allowing postal voting on demand.
(electoral-reform.org.uk)
A postal vote is a thousand times easier to rig than a vote cast in person. At a polling station, you need a different body for each fake voter. With a postal vote, all you need is a different envelope, and perhaps not even that.
Non-existent electors are only the half of it. By all but abolishing the secrecy of the ballot, postal voting opens the door to threats, pressure and outright vote-buying. If you vote in a polling station, nobody can make you show them your ballot paper. Nobody can know if you've obeyed orders or not.
Worst of all, though, is that the authorities don't seem to care. Police inquiries seldom get anywhere. Many rulers have tiptoed round this subject because voting fraud is mostly a problem – for now – in many areas. But what they're actually saying, if you think about it, is that it's all right for many to have their votes stolen – not a view that most voters would share.
To avoid "undermining confidence" in democracy itself, we need change. For future elections, postal voting on demand should be suspended. Nobody is more than a short walk from a polling station. If we do not act, we are effectively in league with the vote-stealers.
(By permitting fraud we betray democracy by Andrew Gilligan at telegraph.co.uk)
Arguments used against postal voting:
• It is much harder to be certain that the person casting the vote is actually the person the vote is registered to.
• There is a reliance on the postal service to make sure the votes don't get lost.
• It is impossible to guarantee that the vote was cast secretly and not under duress.
• Postal voting doesn't re-connect the politically disengaged; it offers no solutions to non-voting based on factors other than sloth.
• Offering people the chance to vote by post doesn't make the electorate any more informed or likely to engage in the political process surrounding the act of voting.
• Since postal voting was introduced, there have been many cases of fraud.
• This fraud has included: intimidation, a pillar box set on fire by party supporters who feared it might contain votes for the opposition, members of ethnic communities threatened with deportation if they didn't vote a particular way, children paid to collect ballot packs that hadn't been pushed fully through letterboxes, large numbers of voters had their ballot papers stolen or taken away for 'safe keeping' and the creation of fictitious electors.
• Richard Mawley QC, The judge presiding over a case of vote-rigging in Birmingham in June 2004 said that: "The system is wide open to fraud and any would-be political fraudster knows that". Citing evidence of "massive, systematic and organized fraud", Judge Mawley said the system was "hopelessly insecure" and sent a message to those that claimed that the current postal voting system was working, adding: "Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tried and listened to evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic would find this statement surprising."
(electoral-reform.org.uk)
Judge Mawley was worried election officers could not check the validity signatures on returned ballots. It did not help that the ballot envelopes were easily identifiable in the post, he said.
"Short of writing 'Steal Me' on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands," Mr Mawley added. The judge said he regretted the government had dismissed warnings about the system's failings as "scaremongering".
He pointed to a government statement which said: "The systems already in place to deal with the allegations of electoral fraud are clearly working."
"The systems to deal with fraud are not working well," he said. "They are not working badly. The fact is that there are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated."
(Postal votes 'wide-open to fraud', Monday, 4 April, 2005 news.bbc.co.uk)
Postal voting, in its varying degrees, is fairly wide-spread across the globe. It is common for local elections in Australia and New Zealand and in many parts of the United States; for example, all elections in the State of Oregon are conducted by post.
In Norway, they have a much more personal service, where voters can ask for an election official to come to house to collect their vote.
The Society believes that turnout is not falling because voting has got more difficult, and thus postal voting is not the best way to increase political engagement. Given the widespread evidence of fraud, and the inherent risks of security and secrecy that can realistically never be overcome, the Society does not believe postal voting is ready for wider use.
(electoral-reform.org.uk)
Reports and warnings about the capacity to commit electoral fraud via postal voting have been ignored by political elite that has nothing but contempt for honesty and accountability. The only solution is to put an end to widespread postal voting for the purpose of convenience. It should be reserved for people with mobility problems and those who will be away during an election until a way can be found to make postal voting secure. And any thoughts of pressing ahead with online voting or voting by text message should be consigned to the dustbin.
It is a disgrace and humiliation that has been brought upon many because the ruling party ignored calls to take precautions to ensure the security of postal votes. Incompetence, sleaze and corruption follow many ruling parties like seagulls following a trawler. On so many levels and in so many ways they have made many countries into an international laughing stock.
(autonomousmind.wordpress.com)
Changes in election rules have made fraud more common. The growth in voting by mail has made vote fraud almost risk free. The stupid errors of most of those who are caught make us think, not that those who commit vote fraud are mostly stupid, but that we are catching only the stupid ones, the ones, for instance, who do not check the obituaries before they mail ballots with some elderly person's name on them.
An analogy may illuminate what has happened. Suppose that a manager in a retail chain wanted, for whatever reason, to encourage theft by employees. It would be easy to think of ways for the manager to do that, from getting rid of cash registers to keeping poorer inventories. Anything that made it easier to steal would increase theft, since there are always some who will be tempted. But the manager would have no direct connection to the theft. He would have facilitated it, but there would be no way to prosecute him for the theft.
Few journalists understand this new pattern of vote fraud; they still think that vote fraud is something committed by parties in an organized fashion. To return to the above analogy, they look for robbery by a gang, rather than pilfering by employees.
(Pseudo-Random Thoughts, Jim Miller on Politics, Oct 2004 at seanet.com)
So, is our right to vote within a democracy something that defines the freedom that we have, or is it just a comforting scam, designed to make us think we have a choice, when in fact the truth is that such choice is no more than an illusion?
(Voting In A Democracy : A Definer Of Freedom Or A Comforting Scam? by Lee on September 3, 2007 in Consumer Fraud at security-faqs.com)


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