General elections are expensive to run, often alienate young voters and haven’t changed much in method since 1950. Why can’t technology help elections more and why are we still using pencils and paper to vote in the age of the smartphone?
Around 40 years ago, long before he was a councillor for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Peter Golds was travelling in America.
An aspiring politician, even then, he answered an ad in the New York Times to work as a poll monitor.
Golds was bussed out to an elementary school in Bergen, New Jersey, a town 40 minutes outside of Manhattan but still with a view of its skyline.
The 1980 election was impressive, he says. Local New Jersey politicians came out in force. Registered voters poured into the school all day, showed their government-issued identification and chose their candidates on electronic screens which tallied votes automatically.
At 8pm sharp, the polls shut. Five minutes later, Golds called the national election service with the results.
An official gave him five dollars, the payment for his oversight. Ronald Regan won the presidential race by 60% and electronic voting was the way forward, he thought at the time.
Today, not so much.
That is because, in 2014, massive election fraud occurred in his borough, Tower Hamlets.
After the election, 164 allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice were alleged and the election was declared void.
Though no one was charged, Golds says his fellow councillors and the police were able to identify that one of the people submitting multiple votes was left-handed.
‘The police should have done something, all they did was shuffle the paper,’ says Golds. Deep indentations on the upper right side rather than the left revealed how the man marked his crosses….