When IT Meets Politics

Nov 11 2008   2:35PM GMT

Who do you trust – on-line or off?

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo

Electronic voting

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has just published its latest Survey of public attitudes towards conduct in public life . Do read it, not just the extracts. Then read the Register on e-voting experience in Finland . It is not just the UK that has problems of communication and trust between the politicians and the electorate.

I found it interesting that the public trust their own MP very much more than “MPs in general”, who rank the same as “Ministers” and those who run large companies.

Indeed they trust their own MP rather more than officials (whether in central or local government or the NHS).

I suspect that if this question had been split between those who have had personal dealings with their MP and those who have not – then many would (deservedly) have trust rankings between Doctors and Judges, at least on the part of those who know them.

I need to spend more time digesting this report but my first conclusion was that the public is surprisingly rational in its decisions about those they trust – given that they place telling the truth top of their priorities.

I was, however,  intrigued to note that the women and the young (18 – 34) were more concerned that politicians should spend public money wisely while men were more concerned over taking bribes.What does that say about older men?  

As for the story about electronic voting in Finland – I remain intrigued as to why those promoting such systems are so vehemently against printing a simple confirmation (still within the confines of the voting booth) for the voter to place in a sealed ballot box to enable a clear and credible audit.

Whether it is the result of intellectual arrogance or evidence of fraudulent intent, it stands in the way of enhancing democracy while preserving the secret ballot.     

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