On going to vote last Thursday, at Elmfield Chapel, near to my home in North Harrow,I was perturbed to be asked to give my full name,though I had handed an election card to one of the ladies presiding over the table where voters had to obtain their three forms.
I queried this politely, and the person concerned reiterated that she "had to be sure that I was who I said that I was".
I raised an eyebrow,before whispering my (uncommon) first name only.
I fail to see how, having handed my election form to her,being able to repeat my own name would "prove identity", and consider the method both patronising and flawed.
After all, a child of average intelligence should be able to repeat a name and address a few minutes after having had a card with one name and address on it in his/her possession for well over a month.
It proves nothing, apart from a modicum of short-term working memory.
I found the experience irritating, especially as next door neighbours (who are remote,yet curious) were nearby.
The procedure certainly does not protect against identity theft, of which I have been a victim three times, through no fault of my own. I thought that voting was supposed to take place in a spirit of confidentiality!
Harrow Council needs to train its election officers to act with a modicum of sensitivity to the high incidence of fraud, as well as to peoples' wish for privacy.
If wanting to check identity, another method must be found, using written text, rather than the spoken word.
There needs to be awareness that, in the case of someone with an unusual name,extra care should be taken, as it is much easier for a would-be fraudster to build up a profile of someone who is more or less unique,rather than saddled with an often duplicated name.
NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED