Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Voting shennanigans

Britain, as half the world knows has an antiquated electoral system (at least for parliament). You divide the country up into small constituencies, and each one votes one candidate to parliament on a first 'past the post' basis. It's a system that guarantees that the political representation in parliament bears no resemblance to the spread of political opinion in the country.

Voting though is simple.. you get a piece of paper with all the candidates listed and you cross against the one you are voting for.... ALL the candidates.

I mention this for one reason - to explain how farcical it is to me to see the recent debate on alleged election fraud here in Sweden. Each party has a whole list of candidates, so there is a separate ballot paper for each party... You just pick the one you fancy and stick it in the box.

And the state takes care of all the printing and distribution so that's OK. Unless you're a small party and then you have to print and distribute your own...

And then when the voter gets there they check over the assembled ballots and choose. Of course it's bad luck if the electoral officials chose to leave your party's blank ballots on a little table off to the side - or thought they would just ditch yours at the end the day (advance balloting is taking place now). If no one sees your ballot papers you're not likely to get many votes..

Sloppy practice, or a bit of subtle electoral bias? Both Piratpartiet and Feministiska Initiativ have cried foul - hopefully loud enough for abnormalities to be fewer in the last days of the campaign. Piratpartiet have in any case taken a practical and mature response to this risk and drawn up a clear summary of what the law says, and how to escalate.

And purely by coincidence, Sweden is to get independant external election observers for the first time ever.....

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