Sunday, 17 December 2006

Interesting new anti eVoting angle - Privatisation is bad

There's an interesting (though that may be the wrong word) article over on Jason Kitcats blog at the moment about the "privatisation of democracy".

I can agree with Jason that the practice of refusing to supply US election officials with equipment because of them exposing the equipment to scrutiny is wrong (that's just an official doing their duty), but I can't agree with the overall tone of the article. Is Jason saying that private companies (who are motivated by profit. Horror!) shouldn't be involved in the electoral process at all? If so I'd like to see a paper election run without the printers to print the ballot cards and Royal Mail to deliver them (both potential weak points security wise).

We may well have seen too much involvement by the vendors in the UK, but this is most likely down to the fact we're still in the pilots stage. Believe me vendors don't want to get into the business of running elections, they're here to do what they do and almost none want to run elections. They want to supply (eventually) commodity systems to be used by electoral officials. End of story.

And if that list of companies is a fish Jason, try again. I don't work for any of them. I work for a UK firm that has a strong ethical direction and belief in doing the right thing for the right cost, yes we want to make a profit, but that isn't our only motivation.

And the government doesn't dictate the supplier to Local Authorities they get to choose from the list.

Jason then has a go at privatisation in general (a completely different discussion). I'm assuming that he agrees it's OK for private businesses to make money from public institutions since the line up of clients at his firm Swing Digitial seems to be mainly schools (though mostly private schools, who's being elitist now? Seems only the rich can afford online communities).

Electronic voting is the privatisation of our elections. It's not right.

Wow - just wow. Do the vendors own the elections? No. Do they own the officials? No. Do they pay their wages? No. Do they decide who's eligible to vote? No (different to the US, what with the list "cleaning" and all). Do they decided who's eligible to stand? No. Then it's hardly privatisation is it?