Friday, May 23, 2008

Elections, Oxford-style

Oxford University is a highly democratic institution, governed by a Congregation of its academic and senior administrative staff and electing every committee and position imaginable. Of course, these elections have a distinctive Oxonian flavour:

  1. Ballot papers ask for the voter's name, signature, faculty and college. I suppose the University does predate the secret ballot in the UK by 800 years.

  2. Candidates are listed simply according to their degrees and previous Oxford positions (with positions at lesser universities relegated to an "Other relevant posts" section). No information is given on how successful candidates might exercise their powers.

I am as excited about voting for library and parks curators or members of the building and estates subcommittee as Americans must be at voting for their state sewage commissioner. Still, at least it is likely to be a century or two before anyone suggests the use of e-voting.


Aaron Helton said...

It's a shame there's so much sentiment against e-voting. There are ways (and Estonia has shown some of them to us) to secure e-voting systems and provide for transparency at the same time. Dare I say, it can even be done over the Internet? Such a concept meets only incredulity in the United States, but that's partially because Americans also have trouble accepting the idea of standardized ID cards. I don't know if the situation will improve, either here or in the UK, or if the dream of a true e-vote (much less I-vote) will remain confined in Estonia.

Ian Brown said...

"Secure" e-voting systems are currently an oxymoron. See ORG's report from last year, and a whole raft of literature on the subject.