Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

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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