The good people of Linkwater are entitled to feel semi-scandalised.
On the same day the Maori Party party was being cast into electoral oblivion by the rest of the country, it was doing swimmingly at this rural Marlborough polling booth, claiming 123 of the 215 votes cast.
Nobody was more confounded than the locals whose suspicions have now been validated. A recount has confirmed those 123 votes on election night were, indeed, National’s.
The mistake was equal-parts surprising and not. Counting and communicating results such as these are entirely straightforward tasks, but any system that has a human component simultaneously allows for human judgment (generally a good thing) and human error (not so much).
In this case the mistake was a data-entry gaffe picked up by the regular process of later recounting each polling booth’s returns.
It is all-but inevitable that online voting will come into place during most of our lifetimes, bringing with it a different series of efficiencies and concerns.
But in the meantime the system we have, however finite its prospects, has at worst been guilty of spasms of unimpressiveness rather than failures that assail the legitimacy of the process.
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