I See The Flaw In The System…

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Just been to vote. Elected Mrs Di Candilo for the Senate based upon her chocolate chip cookies and Mrs. Puto for the House of Representatives for her vanilla puffs. The P&C cake stall wins again.

My wife voted for the egg-and bacon muffin party though she said she wished that the sausage sizzle collective had been standing for office because she would have chosen them.

My daughter lost out. They were all sold out when she went, which shows you the terrible price you pay if your are slow off the mark.

But I have detected a danger in the actual polling station. Here in Australia they are frequently set up in the local primary schools and the equipage of the the station is done by means of cardboard and paper. There are cardboard pylons, crowd control rails, and booths for the actual voting. There are two sealed cardboard boxes for the completed ballot papers to go into and a big cardboard bin outside for the used how-to-vote pamphlets to go into.

In fortunately this outer bin bears a resemblance to the ballot boxes, which lead one old chap this morning to shove the HTV cards into the ballot box before the scrutineers could stop him. No great problem, as they can throw them out when they open the box to count ballots. But it points out the basic danger of the cardboard box full of paper.

A lighted match down into the box, or a Bic thrown in alight would be a little inferno in seconds – and this is in a crowded school room. The box could be thrown outside but would be thrown into a patient crowd of voters waiting to get into the room.

Of course the culprit would probably be caught, and there are severe statutory punishments for those who interfere with elections. But that is not the point. There are people with nothing to lose in either the bank nor in their minds who would delight in causing chaos. They abound at every shopping centre or trains station. This would be a wonderful way of getting attention for them.

And a coordinated attack all over the town or country would be cheap and easy to plan – there are enough fools to recruit from.

Apart from public safety, the nuisance of interference in the election and possible legal challenges over lost ballots would be the next worst effect. A close election in the electorate that had the ballot box fire might prompt a losing candidate to try their luck again through a challenge. Super expensive for all of us.

Okay, paper/cardboard voting is probably the cheapest way to go for Australian elections – particularly with a senate paper that is half the size of a bed sheet – and with no tradition of voting machine we would be hard pressed to change over to electronic booths in a hurry. But a better system of getting that paper from the voter’s hand to the safety of the box is needed – and a way of ensuring that nothing else enters that box.

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