Voting irregularities in this day and age seem to be par for the course when it comes to elections. The Pirate Party did celebrate their biggest election victory ever, but could the voter support in the final tally been higher had the irregularities not occurred? One report was recently published that suggested that this could be a very real possibility.
June 7th, 2009 could very well be the day many people who are familiar with the Pirate Party won’t forget. An unprecedented win which saw a member of the Pirate Party formally elected into the European parliament with another member to join him after the ratification of the Lisbon treaty. The leader suggested that the party has climbed to heights he did not dare to dream where they captured 7.1% of the popular vote.
Some hailed the day as, among other things, a victory for privacy, a victory for digital rights, a victory for forward looking ideas for this day and age or the confirming day that corporate interests have pushed too hard to further erode user rights. So, in that light, 7.1% was indeed a very high number and a resounding success for the party.
For some, it may come to a surprise that it is possible that the percentage of support could have been higher if it weren’t for voting irregularities. A report from The Local suggests that, among other things, voting information for smaller parties have been set aside at some polling stations.
Comments left on the Pirate Party’s website have reported similar cases during the election including on this item (Google translation)
This story seemed to have resonated under the radar and appears to have re-emerged in the article found on The Local:
However, these party-distributed ballots had a tendency to disappear or be placed in out-of-the-way places.
Birgitta Westerdahl, chair of the Salem election district south of Stockholm, told SR of a first-time voter who was unable to find a ballot for the Pirate Party.
He then received inaccurate information that it wasn’t possible to write-in the party name on a blank ballot sheet.
In the end, he ended up voting for another party.
Another point the article was bringing up was that for smaller parties, officials from that party have to distribute their ballots themselves to some polling stations.
Still, it’s unclear whether or not this will have a major impact in the public conscious unlike some voting fiasco’s seen in, say, the United States. Perhaps the reason is that there’s still that euphoria of an actual victory in the first place that might trump potential controversy that might otherwise arise from this. For some, it might even just be seen as a failed attempt by other parties to keep the party out of the European parliament.
For now, whether or not irregularities actually happened, many parties across Europe will have to get use to the presence of the party in Europe – especially those who are intent on restricting copyright laws or increasing surveillance on average people further.