Britain’s polling stations. A school hall, a church hall, a sign outside in black text on cheap white paper. The booths are tacked together flimsey hardboard and unfinished 2 by 1. The voters mark the papers using pencils tied to the booth with string; a vote is a simple big cross, that you may see a character in a film make if they can’t write their name. The only branding to be seen is the red, blue and yellow-orange rosettes of those holding clip boards outside the door. The paper, pencils and undesigned environment give a the feeling of democracy and process that has been around for many years.
Yesterday, many angry citizens (subjects?) missed out on their right to vote as the stations were overloaded and time ran out. Now the Electoral Commisson, a not very watchful watchdog, is looking for reform. We told you so! they say, as they pass the buck to the returning officers. The system is out of date!
I am not sure why the organisers didn’t lay on a few more workers and tables and have a reserve of ballot papers. But I hope the low tech system of voting won’t be blamed and moved aside. Will a management consultancy change paper and pencil for electronic and digital interface? Will a branding agency change the ‘look and feel’ of the voting experience to reflect the new era of electoral reform? Just because it isn’t digital, it doesn’t not mean it is wrong.