Postal Ballots On Demand: The Democratic Alternative (April 2008)
The use of postal ballots on demand - that is without conditions such as absence or disability - has been promoted in Britain since the Representation of the People Act 2000. This effectively repealed the 1872 Ballot Act by removing the safeguard against electoral fraud and intimidation that votes be officially witnessed as cast in secret at a polling station. It is however self evident to common sense that postal voting is more vulnerable to fraud than voting in person. Electoral fraud since these reforms has greatly increased. Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Standards in Public Life, was dismissed in 2007 following his accusation that the Government is obsessed with electoral modernisation at the expense of secure voting. Andy Hayman, Assistant Commissioner for Scotland Yard's special prosecutions unit has stated: "It is the view of the unit that widespread use of postal votes has opened up a whole new area to be exploited by the fraudster and the opportunity has been taken." Given such facts, the Conservative Party - which, along with the Liberal Democrats, failed to oppose the introduction of these practices - has stated on its website that: "Questions must be asked why Labour Ministers are sitting on their hands, and whether they are failing to clamp down on postal fraud for partisan reasons."
The Campaign to Defend the Right to a Secret Ballot (CDRSB) was the first organisation to oppose the use of postal ballots on demand. In 2006 we organised a conference on electoral standards at the UN in New York. The conference report and briefing presented to the Community of Democratic Nations can be viewed on www.sortition.com. The report examines whether these electoral reforms - now enacted in several countries - were introduced not only to address the problem of falling voter turnout, but also for factional reasons, and proposes alternative means to increase political participation. Problems of secret factionalism have always been a feature of democracy in its modern form. The most serious allegations in this regard show how decisive such influences may be. The CIA does not openly uphold them, but since the 'murky' world of intelligence is an intrinsically uncertain field of knowledge such reticence may be influenced by diplomacy.
In 1963 KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn made claims which western intelligence has still not resolved. The publication of 'Spy Wars' in 2007 by Tennent H. Bagley, an intelligence officer involved directly in this affair, underlines the continuing state of turmoil in the CIA concerning this problem. As the Washington Times review of the book states, 'this is a hotter topic among agency veterans than even the recent autobiography of former CIA Director George Tenet.' Golitsyn claimed communism has been committed to a long term strategy of deception since Khrushchev and Mao Tse Tung agreed upon this course shortly before the 1960 meeting of the world communist movement - its last, openly Marxist, united gathering. Soviet bloc collapse, he maintains, is a deception aimed to facilitate, by stealth, European integration under soft left auspices in a global alliance opposing the USA. Fifth column infiltration of parties and state agencies serve this purpose, coordinated with terrorism. The testimony by the poisoned Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko - essentially that the KGB runs Al Qaeda - underlines the prescience of Golitsyn's claims. His advocates maintain 'islamobolshevism' was created during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. By penetrating the Afghan mujahadeen organisations opposing Soviet rule with communists, killing the genuinely Muslim leaders of these groups and then replacing them with their own agents, the KGB has transformed the holy war against Soviet occupation into a holy war against the west, it is alleged. Given such possibilities democratic strategy is best informed by analysis of the conflict between radicalism and conservatism in its relation to totalitarianism.