Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 9/11/2005What a day for voting. Not only has that lovely Blair chap failed to persuade his people that suspects should be locked up for quarter of a year while the plod peer through their computers — and if anyone can tell me exactly what technical reasoning lies behind this magic figure, I'll be most grateful — but Arnie got told off by an e-voting machine.

Wednesday 9/11/2005

What a day for voting. Not only has that lovely Blair chap failed to persuade his people that suspects should be locked up for quarter of a year while the plod peer through their computers — and if anyone can tell me exactly what technical reasoning lies behind this magic figure, I'll be most grateful — but Arnie got told off by an e-voting machine.

The Governator wanted to exercise his franchise during Californian state ballots, but the high-tech robo-teller would have none of it. "You've already voted once, now naff off" it told the non-girlyman. He hadn't, of course, and after a while the voting organisers traced the problem to his name being used beforehand to check the system's connectivity. Since nobody had thought to remove his name from the database of those who had voted, when the real thing turned up he was slapped down. The appropriate entry was removed and he was once again allowed to register his approval of his own ideas.

Just one of those things, eh? Not really. This means that whatever protocol was adopted to check the systems integrity prior to the election, it didn't include setting the voter exclusion records back to their default state. What else was in there? We don't know, and clearly neither does anyone else. We can be grateful that the problem involved such a high profile voter, otherwise we'd never know that following all the kerfuffle over unauthorised code changes and vanishingly poor security, the electronic voting systems are still a wobbly sack of walrus sputum.

We can also be grateful that for all the daftnesses and authoritarian twitching going on at the heart of the UK's government, there is seemingly no taste for electronic voting at all. There may still be some subcommittee scratching away at a report deep within the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, but for now it looks like we'll be stuck sticking bits of paper with pencil marks through slots in metal boxes for the foreseeable. And that, despite my love affair with all things bleepy, is just fine by me.

(Thursday's entry has been removed because of disturbances in the space-time continuum)

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