Friday, 29 May 2009
Well, that's it, voting's over (well, for me)
Well, that's it. My democratic right has been exercised. I have returned my postal ballot, to be keep safe by the Brighton and Hove returning officer until next Friday when it'll be opened and added to hundreds of thousands from across the South-East.
It hardly conjured up all the images of bygone battles for universal suffrage, or of queues waiting to vote in the Zimbabwean sun, but I trust it will count, just the same.
I know there have been cases of postal vote fraud (most notably some dodgy Labour tricks in the West Midlands a few years back, but examples abound) but I think the biggest problem likely to affect most postal voters in these elections is accidentally making a mistake.
I don't just mean getting their cross in the wrong box on the ballot paper (though I've got to admit even that's a possibility, given that it's a massive ballot paper, needing a few unfolds even to be able to look at it all at once, and the fact that some of the parties seem to be listed alphabetically while some aren't - The Green Party are listed under 'T' for 'The', for example, not 'G' for 'Green').
No, it's the four-step process that, I fear, some will get wrong: putting the cross in the box, sealing the ballot in an envelope, signing a separate identification form and then putting the whole lot in a second envelope for return.
The problem is only likely to get worse as the clamour for electoral reform grows louder by the day and public dissatisfaction with the bigger parties means we are likely to see more parties and independent candidates contest future elections.
Perhaps we need a simpler system, for the able-bodied at least - putting voting papers straight in a ballot box on election day, perhaps?