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This morning I went and voted.

I took the card that came through my door to the polling station, confirmed my name and they gave me 3 pieces of paper for me to put my crosses in.

Yesterday I went to the post office to pick up a parcel.

I took the card that came through my door to the post office, confirmed my address, showed the man my passport when asked for ID and they gave me my parcel.

In both cases I could have done the same without the card, it's just more convenient if you have it.

Although, I would obviously be quite upset if someone ran off with my parcel, it seems it would be far worse if someone stole my vote. So, what's stopping me (other than my personal morals) going into a polling station somewhere in the country and using someone else's vote, if I knew which polling station they were registered with and that they hadn't already voted?

It seems strangely inconsistent that I need to show ID for more and more things nowadays (although I'm not convinced that's entirely a good thing), but not for voting.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
1st May, 2008 08:56 (UTC)
*is slightly shocked*

I have to show ID to vote. Then again I'm my state legally requires people to carried State picture ID. (This not really enforced, but it's on the books)
1st May, 2008 09:39 (UTC)
I took my passport along with me this morning, thinking, it doesn't say I need ID and I don't remember having to have any last time I voted, but I must need some and was likewise surprised to find I didn't.

ID cards are a bit of a touchy subject over here. A lot of people don't like the idea and their are a few campaign groups such as No2ID actively trying to stop them.

Personally, I think the principle of everyone having an id card that they can use to prove who they are is a good one (after all, it's basically what we do with passports and driving licences now). However, I don't know a lot of detail about the planned implementation.

I'm not sure people should be required to carry them, just have them.

1st May, 2008 09:43 (UTC)
I think the problem is if someone has an ID card that proves they are you, or if the data that the ID card is supposed to be accessed is not as secure, and somebody leaves the disc on a train? I don't mind, personally, so long as I don't have to pay for anything...
1st May, 2008 09:47 (UTC)
But equally they could have a passport that proves they are me.
1st May, 2008 10:04 (UTC)
True, which means I don't really know why people don't want ID cards (neophobes?)
1st May, 2008 10:11 (UTC)
One isn't obliged to have a passport, whereas one would be obliged to have (and pay a not inconsiderable sum for) the proposed ID card. Also it would require giving a government which is not very good with data security a database guaranteed to contain information on every law-abiding citizen.
1st May, 2008 10:26 (UTC)
I get confused. If you want to tighten up voting security, you need to make sure everybody has ID. If everybody has ID, then it has to be free (at least for those on benefits, etc.). But you can't rely on driving licenses and pension books. If the proposed ID card is going to do this, then there will be a fiasco sooner or later, because of the insecurity of what should be very secure systems. I do realise that. But very few people don't have cash cards (my mother doesn't); and these are the same kind of thing. So, apart from the fact of making it be compulsory, and the problem of security, what else is there?
1st May, 2008 11:05 (UTC)
The database that the chips in the proposed ID cards are linked to would contain vastly more personal information than any other ID card system in the world. Criminal record, biometric data, medical records, credit rating, possibly even travel activity if you live in London and use an Oyster card.

Such an enormous database with so much sensitive information on it is beyond the capacity of what even a capable government could administrate. If somebody broke into it they could find out absolutely anything. For example, if a certain cult against which many people protest once a month broke into the database, found out who travelled to particular London Underground stations on those dates and no others, then copied their addresses, phone numbers, places of work and details of their children's schools, they could have a field day.
1st May, 2008 11:59 (UTC)
"Only basic personal information will be held to prove your identity - such as name, nationality, age, address and gender. This is no different to what is already held by the public sector, e.g. for issuing National Insurance numbers and driving licences. Unrelated information such as religious beliefs, tax and medical records cannot be held. In fact there are strict limits in the legislation which expressly prevent this."

From the Home Office's Identity and Passport Service website

Edited at 2008-05-01 11:59 (UTC)
1st May, 2008 12:34 (UTC)
Elsewhere it says that information will be held on the chip on the card - and that the database linked to the card will have biometric data on it.

Then it says that "However, the Identity Registration Number (IRN) will provide a quick way for the relevant organisation to make checks against individuals’ records within their own systems, thus increasing efficiency and avoiding the wrong records being used." - so, it can be put together with other databases, if you log into the right computer to do it.

"The identity verification service will provide a way for accredited organisations to check an individual’s identity. This means that you will have a secure and convenient way of proving your identity in a variety of situations, such as opening a bank account or registering with a GP, for example.

The identity verification service works at different levels according to what information is needed. For example:

* for a basic transaction such as proving your age it could confirm simply that your card is valid
* if you are a foreign national applying for a job it could be used to confirm that the status of your visa allows you to work
* if you are applying to work in a position of trust (as a nanny for example) it could be used to confirm that you do not have a criminal record.

To protect your privacy, all organisations that wish to use the identity verification service will need to be accredited, and they will need your consent before they use the service to check your identity."

Banks, shops and employers will be able to access it too, and provide information to cross-reference their records with the NIR records. Foreigners will be identified by it - you could call up a list of them.

(Those two quotes are from this page)
1st May, 2008 15:03 (UTC)
So they will use your IRN in other databases, surely this is just the same way people might use your NI number.

If you wanted to pull that information from all those various databases, you'd need access to each of them. I doubt anyone has ready access to all of them, so it would mean hacking into all the databases with the information you want and searching for that IRN. It won't be a simple case of hacking into one database and pulling out someones complete life history, but hacking into several and only getting the information contained in those databases. Frankly, if you were going to hack into all those databases, you'd probably have enough information to match the records together without the IRN.

As for the identity verification, it doesn't actually state how this works, it could just be a simple case of the organisation sending the information it's got and the NIR sending back the equivalent of "yes" or "no" to confirm if the details match a record it has.

Besides foreigners will not be identified by it as it doesn't include information on racial or ethnic origin.
1st May, 2008 11:47 (UTC)
Yes, but surely they have a lot of this already in things like the electorial register anyway.

What items of data are the issue here? (I'm not sure what they are planning to include in this)

Looking at this list from the BBC (admittedly quite old now, so plans may have changed). There is nothing on there that the government won't already have.

I'm not sure it's entirely necessary to have your NI number, etc attached to your record for the ID card. However, that's a question of implementation rather than concept.

How does this compare with the databases of the Inland Revenue, the DLA, the passport authority, etc (admittedly the latter 2 are semi-opt-in)?

I personally think these should be funded by the government (except if you lose one you should pay for the replacement) through the taxes. However, that's another question of implementation rather than concept.

There is now a greater requirement to prove who we are on a daily basis. If I didn't have photo id I wouldn't have been able to collect my parcel for example. The expectation that people have id is already there, so we need to make sure everyone has it.

I spent a couple of years without a driving licence or passport after finishing university and ran into all manor of difficulties trying to prove who I was. This included the fact that I tried to change banks, but was unable to as I couldn't prove who I was sufficiently to open a new account.

1st May, 2008 11:55 (UTC)
a government which is not very good with data security

And the starting point for this discussion was voting. I see a market (um. that cannot be the right word) for a "we know our data security" party.
1st May, 2008 15:05 (UTC)
Maybe that bit about it being required is an urban myth. Quick google isn't telling me anything anyway.

My id card is also my divers licence. If you don't drive the state will give you a non-driving ID.

I am rather confused by the anti-id card people here. I think it has something to do with how much info they are linked to or some such. The drivers license I have has my address, hight weight, hair and eye colour and date of birth. Also a sticker saying I'm a organ donor. Oh and crapy picture of me.
1st May, 2008 09:21 (UTC)
The bit that gets me is that the form for the electoral register is only filled in by one person. Given the way postal votes are being pushed these days the system is even more open fraud than it was.
1st May, 2008 09:46 (UTC)
I wonder if the register checked against records of births, deaths, immigration, etc?

It would seem sensible if you were added to the electoral register when you were born using the information on your birth certificate and removed when you died*. Then the forms would only be to check where you were living so you could be registered for the right constituency.

I doubt it works like that though.

* - obvious you'd have to take into account migration as well and add people when they became British citizens, etc, etc.
1st May, 2008 10:28 (UTC)
That would be too easy. They just send a form to each house, and say 'who lives here?', please get one person to check the form. When I was a student, students would be registered at home and their term-time address, and choose which address to vote from when polling day came (or just vote where they happened to be at the time).
1st May, 2008 17:23 (UTC)
Peterborough recently re-started their electoral roll from scratch - they sent out a blank form saying "who lives here?" rather than one with last year's names on saying "make changes". They lost about 10% of people.

Now they don't know how many of the 10% are still around but haven't put their names on, and how many were a previous over-counting.
1st May, 2008 09:46 (UTC)
Here in Oldham, there have been previously a large number of cases of vote-stealing, vote-fixing, vote-rigging, and other underhand business. And postal votes meant that a landlord could collect a lot of other people's postal votes and generally ruin the vote.

So, yes, you are right: some form of ID (with photograph) and a more stringent postal-vote system would be much better.
1st May, 2008 10:15 (UTC)
Not everyone who should be allowed to vote has ID.
1st May, 2008 11:05 (UTC)
Yes, but ID (admittedly it's not free as it should be) is available to everyone and a voting system where there is no check to ensure that the voter is who they say they are, allowing people to vote as many times as they like, is fundamentally flawed.

I think this demonstrates the need for some form of national ID card.
1st May, 2008 19:24 (UTC)
It's still detectable when fraud occurs: someone apparently tries to vote twice. It turns out that in practice, almost nobody ever tries. Why spend billions fixing a theoretical problem that doesn't actually occur in practice?
2nd May, 2008 00:14 (UTC)

It's only detectable if the owner of the vote later tries to use it. Given the numbers of people who aren't voting at the moment, it would be fairly easy to find someone not planning to vote at which point there is no way that your use of that vote would necessarily show up.

Just because it doesn't happen doesn't mean it won't and as it would be undetectable if planned well it could be pulled off quite easily.

alison_lees comment above implies that it does happen at the moment.

Although I've not seen any evidence that it does occur, I believe that the fact that it can be done undetectably fundamentally undermines the electoral system.
1st May, 2008 11:52 (UTC)
3? I feel so deprived. In Southampton I only got one piece of paper )-:
1st May, 2008 12:03 (UTC)
It was for the GLA, so there was one for the mayor, one for your local representative and one for the party for a london-wide representative (to bring in a bit of proportional representation I assume).
Dave Holland [org.uk]
1st May, 2008 12:26 (UTC)
If everyone voted, then personation wouldn't be a problem.

BTW I hope you voted for Boris. :-)
1st May, 2008 14:48 (UTC)
But they could still use your vote before you did.

OK, it would then highlight that there was a vote that had already been used, but there would be no way of tracking down who did it and I can't see how they would be able to tell which voting slip was the fake one once they were in the box.

Besides, we're unlikely to ever be in the situation where everyone votes.
1st May, 2008 19:28 (UTC)
well, then you could steal their vote. All even.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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