Exclusive to gopbriefingroom.com. Copyright transferred to the site owners.
Tonight I had a knock on the door. A council officer, in the cold and rain, here to collect the voter registration for the house. It is done every two years without fail, and if you buy or lease a property in the interim time, filling out one is part of the paperwork you must complete.
No one asks you your party affiliation. Sometimes, though rarely, you will be asked for proof of identity. It's a spot check system, and whatever bit of junk mail is still on the doormat is sufficient. No one cares. The name and primary nationality of any residents over 18 are all that is required. There is an optional tick box to prevent your name going on the public rolls (the ones sold to marketers). That is it. A single piece of paper that your fill in and sign in front of the grossly underpaid council worker.
But it's import is huge. As a UK citizen, I get the right to vote in local, national and euro elections, as well as any referendums (In theory, there has only been one in my lifetime and I were too young to vote). I get a white card through the letter box, roughly 3 weeks before the election.
My wife has never bothered to do the relevant paperwork to make her a UK citizen, despite us being married and her having lived here for 40 years. Long enough to establish residency. She gets a yellow card. She is allowed to vote in local elections and for Euro MP's. That is it.
On voting day, you take your card to your designated polling place - no you do not have a choice - and are given your voting slip. Pencil and paper only, there are no electronic machines here. Your card gets stamped and a line is drawn through your name on the electoral register. You voted. Well done, you have contributed to democracy!
How hard is that system? It is not perfect, by any means, but it is cheap, simple and stops fraud. Want to use a postal vote? Sure, go for it. Just make sure you use it or you hand it in unused before you vote in person. You requesting a postal vote is noted on the register and you will not be permitted to vote without proof you did not use the postal vote. Want to get cute and vote more than once? Your name and address is on the card and you have no choice at all about your polling station. People will notice if you pop in a couple of times - we have election monitors to check for exactly that. I have been asked questions by an election monitor before now, because I voted early in the morning, my wife voted late in the evening and I had walked down with her.
Votes are taken to a central location to be counted. Any random Tom Dick or Harry can watch the counting process. Don't forget - it's all on paper. You can see the size of the piles, and the piles are spot checked by representatives of all three major parties.
Who needs voter ID? A designated polling station, a card that gets stamped and a small amount of record keeping. Not exactly much to keep the vote clean. So - what's the fuss?