When I voted in last year's US Presidential elections with my absentee ballot via email, none of my Italian friends/family/colleagues/students/etc. believed that such a thing could be legal. "Voting by email!?," they'd say. "How anti-privacy! How unsafe! That's not how democracy works!" Their basic claim was that here in Italy so many safeguards are put in place to make sure someone's vote is 100% secure and private. (Keep in mind, my application process to vote absentee started many months in advance and involved background checks, SSN requirements, a trip to the US Consulate, maybe even some fingerprints, and a special web address to cast my e-ballot.) Nevertheless, Italy's general pushback against fully embracing the internet was in full effect during these discussions.
Well, wow - you can imagine the look of amazement on my face today when I went to vote in the Bologna Mayoral elections and the EU Parliamentary elections and they handed me A PENCIL to mark my ballots. A PENCIL. But not just any pencil. A pencil required by law. A pencil that (supposedly) can't be erased. A magical pencil, if you will.
I still don't know if it's a genius invention, or one big con. Whatever the case, I voted (proudly, because I like voting - magical pencils notwithstanding). Whether or not someone's erasing my votes as you read this... let's save that for another blog post.
Here's to you, Democracy.
P.S. Ok, yes it's a little fun to make fun of the voting pencil, but I must admit, Italy's policy of automatically registering its citizens to vote as soon as they reach the age of 18 is very, very cool.
P.P.S. Did anyone else notice that the ballot in the above picture is too big for the box?