Voting

So, today I enrolled to vote and subsequently voted. Took all of five minutes. And it required no ID whatsoever. That, my friends, is how a democracy should work.

Having been overseas for a year in the build-up to a general election, the Electoral Commission had tried to get in contact with me at my old address. When I failed to confirm my details (due to the fact I was in Romania and not residing in Grey Lynn, Auckland) my registration elapsed. As such, I returned to Aotearoa as someone who wanted to vote but had to go and register as a voter to do so.

Now, I could have enrolled to vote in Romania via the post (if I had been at home I could have done it online), but as I knew I would be back at least a week before the election, I decided I'd enrol in person. It would be cheaper (no envelope or stamps) and faster (no waiting on the post).

Enrolling to vote this close to an election isn't difficult; you can enrol to vote right up to the day before the election. In my case it was easiest to go to an advance voting/polling station. These are many and designed to be easy to get to; mine was literally a five minute walk from Mum's house. I entered, said I need to enrol and was given a form. I entered my name, my birth date, my current address and the address where I was last enrolled and, without much fanfare, I was enrolled. Didn't even need to show any ID.

Now, because I was enrolling a week before the election I had the option to either vote straight away (because you can advance vote two weeks before polling day) or vote on the day. I chose to vote immediately because I will likely be out-of-district on election day and thus would have to cast a special vote regardless. Special votes are votes which either get cast outside your electorate or cast before polling day. They get counted slightly differently from other, 'normal' votes; if I voted on polling day in my electorate my name would be crossed off the list when I cast my vote. A special vote gets counted after the non-special votes are counted; basically each booth checks with the others to make sure the person who cast the special vote hasn't voted elsewhere.

Casting a special vote requires another form. It's not a complicated process; it's just name, birth date and address. Said form gets popped into a sealed envelope and then you get given your voting papers. Fill that out, pop into the other half of the sealed envelope, and drop it into the special votes box.

Time taken for this process: less than give minutes. Had I already been enrolled it would have taken half the time, and had I voted on polling day it would take less than a minute. Maybe three if there was a queue.

Why am I posting this? Because a feature of certain U.S. conspiracy theories is talk of voter fraud or voter suppression. The U.S. has rules and barriers designed to combat or aid this (depending on who is speaking) and, frankly, voting seems like much more of an ordeal or piece of rigamarole in the U.S. than it need be. We have very little to almost no voter fraud in our system, and we have little to no barriers to enrol and vote. There's no ID required. We weed out fraudulent voters via the general or Māori roll and by counting special votes separately after the rest of the votes have been tallied. It is not difficult. Indeed, the lack of difficulty in our system makes voting easy, fast (no one queues for more than about fifteen minutes to cast their vote on the day) and—due to the protections built in to both voting and voter registration—pretty much fraud free. Democracy can be remarkably simple.

Just like politicians.

I'll fetch me coat.

What's happening this week (and what happened last week – 4-9-17

Last week's agenda was:

  • Work on my paper for the `Trust, Expert Opinion and Policy' conference,
  • Prep for the podcast,
  • Finish work on a paper analysing what Lee Basham calls the 'public trust approach' and
  • Revise a paper on reasonable disagreements and conspiracy theories.

Well, the first didn't happen due to circumstances which made attending the conference impossible. The second did happen, as tomorrow's post will undoubtably show. Also, the next episode of the podcast will differ quite substantially from the others, in that we are playing around with the format. Expect Josh and me to be punchier. Maybe even punchable.

As for items 3 and 4; well, 3 is being worked upon, whilst 4 probably won't get a look in until I get back to Auckland in a fortnight. Last week found me having to write my report about my year as a Fellow at the ICUB, and despite it being a 'What I did on my holidays'-style report it took almost a day to write because I hate writing that kind of thing. On the plus side, I was very productive over the last twelve months.

So, this week's agenda is:

  • Prep for the podcast and
  • Finish work on a paper analysing what Lee Basham calls the 'public trust approach.'

Which is all I'll have time for; I have to pack and sort out a number of items here in Bucharest before I return to Auckland. I can confidently say that next week's agenda is 'Travel' and nothing more; once I leave Bucharest I'll be spending a few days in the U.K. before flying back to Auckland via LAX.

Better wipe that laptop before I go!