The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where voting is carried out almost entirely by computer. The days of cocooning yourself in a booth with a long list of names and a red pencil are over.
Now a computer takes you through the process step by step: choose party, touch screen, choose candidate, touch screen and you’ve voted. It’s quick and simple, it saves a lot of work on counting endless ballot papers and it means the final results are known so quickly that we can all go to bed early.
But Holland would not be Holland without someone being ready to protest – and the voting computer is no exception. ‘We don’t trust voting computers.nl’ is the catchy name for a group determined to bring back the red pencil. They argue that it is too easy to hack into the computers and have shown just how to do it. With the help of a car satellite navigation system, they managed to come up with a Christian Democrat detector.
Now the Rotterdam warehouse where the computers are being stored has been put under extra protection after it was revealed the only security was a lock on the door. An alarming lack of alarms indeed.
Democracy is a precious thing, but it does need to be properly safeguarded, including just how you place that vital X.