Why isn’t UK voting anonymous?

I voted in the European election today. I was pre-registered and had received my voting card. I went to the polling station where they looked at my card, checked it against my name on the electroal roll, crossed it out, and noted its number on a list next to the unique ID of the ballot paper. I made my choice and put the slip in the ballot box.

Much of this process is necessary in order to combat fraud and ballot rigging, however, it’s clearly not anonymous – a simple reference back from the paper’s ID to my voting card ID means that the government knows what I voted. Knowing what I voted gives no anti-fraud advantage I can see, and means that the collected data is way more sensitive than it needs to be. The simple fact that this knowledge exists is likely to distort voting patterns – people might be afraid of their political leanings being exposed. I’m not particularly worried about that personally, but those with more extreme views (like those that vote for the BNP) might not want this known, and it undermines the absolute right to freedom of association. Political affiliation is regarded as the highest form of ‘personal data’ under the data protection act, along with ethnicity, sexual preference, medical records etc, and the best way to avoid problems with this kind of data is not to keep it in the first place, as the numerous leaks/losses/exposures of government information have highlighted. So why is it done? Aren’t elections meant to be done by secret ballot? Did I miss something? Why aren’t more people disturbed by this?

Some people

Just at the top of a hill that is Friendly street, just near my house, there are traffic lights for the single lane of traffic joining the A20. A woman in a burgundy Fiat Punto pulls up to the lights, first in line, right in the middle of the lane (just as if she had stopped at the lights, as usual). She then turns the engine off, puts her hazard lights on, gets out of the car, locks it, and walks off to nearby shops. Within seconds there is a queue of cars hooting. I was quite incredulous at such flagrant disregard for just about everything and everyone!

Sailing

Zoë and I sailed from Gibraltar to Almerimar with my Mum this weekend. I use “sailed” a little loosely as there was essentially no wind, so we motored nearly all the way. Zoë had a fantastic time. The weather was lovely, and with so little wind, it was really easy to stop for a swim every so often (like when the water temperature sensor said 27°!). The highlight for me was sitting down for dinner in the setting sun and being joined by 40 or so dolphins. Highly recommended!

Partied out

Last night was my sister’s 10th wedding anniversary party at the RAF club on Piccadilly, followed by even more drinks at Floridita’s in Soho. Got home about 2, felt extremely rough this morning, then had to face a 4th birthday party, which was actually quite entertaining! Congrats to Becca & Ander, and best of luck for the next 10!