Thursday 10th June is the day we in the UK will have an opportunity (but see below) to cast our votes in the elections for the European Parliament (EP). Most other countries will be voting on Sunday 13th June, so the results will not be known until late Sunday or during Monday 14th. At stake are seats in the newly-enlarged EP with newly-elected MEPs coming from all 25 member states, including the 10 nations who became members on 1st May this year.
I might be said, however, to have adopted the first part of a sarcastic French exhortation: Votez tot, et votez souvent (Vote early, and vote often), because I took the opportunity a few years back to register for a permanent postal vote. My original reason for doing this was simply to understand exactly how it worked, so I would be able to judge whether the fears being expressed (they still are!) about the safety of this system were well-founded. Not to put too fine a point on it, it is feared that postal voting is wide open to abuse. My conclusion? Well, I wouldn't say it is wide-open to abuse, but it seems certainly not to be entirely secure. A few points (not exhaustive):
- the 'witness' system seems pretty lax;
- obtaining multiple votes at 'accommodation' addresses appears possible, if journalistic exploits are to be believed;
- the postal system for sending out voting papers, and for receiving them back, may be slow or defective.
In my case it all seemed to go smoothly; I received my voting papers in good time (Thursday 27th May, well before the 1st June deadline) and I posted my voting papers back on Monday 7th June, plenty time for my vote to reach its destination. Of course, I cannot be absolutely certain that my vote reached its destination (point 3 above). Now that I have voted 3 times (in differeent elections!) using a postal vote, I think that I shall cancel my postal vote, though, and revert to polling station voting; efforts by this government to move to compuslory postal voting, which has been done in four regions this time, seem to have been plagued by administrative problems and the whole system needs to be tightened up before such a dramatic change could be worthy of support.
How I voted? Well, I'll reveal that next Monday. Let's just say, I wish we had a box on our voting forms along the lines of that on Australian voting slips, which apparently says 'none of these' ...