Between 2001 and 2004, there wasn’t a large bureaucracy in Talossa. We didn’t have several people maintaining several aspects of the Kingdom. What we had, instead, was a one man army doing everything for the Kingdom. I was Secretary of State, Minister of Immigration, Scribe of Abbavilla, Minister of Stuff, Webmaster of almost all websites, Wittmeister, Senator of Ataturk, Chairman of the Micronation Desk (effectively Foreign Minister), and an original member of the Primary Intelligence Group. Almost entire online presence of the Kingdom was under my management.
Many Cosa members keep repeating to me “the Kingdom has changed a lot in the past 10 years," but in reality, the changes are cosmetic in nature. And yet, we still have six Clarks per Cosa, we still have one Senator per province, we still have Cosa Members and they still vote from the first of the month until the twenty-first. The process for sending bills is different, thanks to the Hopper, but once on the Clark it’s all still the same game. Adding Fiova to the database took me exactly 15 seconds. Benito was renamed across the whole database in just about the same time.
This brings us to the last election... and my contentious discussion of it with Minister of Interior C. Carlüs Xheraltescù.
This might surprise you, but despite my ten years absence, the electoral process from the point of view of database was virtually unchanged until the secret ballot arrived. Voting is still pretty much made the same way as it was since even before my arrival in Talossa: voters vote for a party (or “Present”), on any referendums, on their senator if it’s time and possibly on their provincial party.
From the point of view of the current voters of Talossa, the arrival of the online voting form came as a shock, but that use of the database certainly wasn’t experimental. It was used in all elections between 2001 and 2004. And even now, it is only one alternative voting method, since it's still optional.
When, at the last minute, on December 1st 2013, the Secretary of State took a leave of absence and named me Acting Secretary of State, with only hours to announce the rules of the election, I instantly knew how to conduct the election, because my solution was long-ready. I would have loved it if I have had more time to prepare the nation, but I didn’t have a choice. With only two weeks, I was pushed in the conductor’s seat and had to run the first ever secret election of the Kingdom of Talossa.
In the past, there was no individual ballots, the Chancery could send a single massive email to all of the voters in a single swoop. But for the first time, a custom ballot had to be sent to each individual voter, requiring to actually prepare hundreds of ballots custom built for each voter. Without a script to automatically prepare them, such a process would take days of manual email composing, but with the database, I managed to automate the process so that it is sent in the background, properly filled.
Making things more difficult was that for the first time ever, the election duration was halved to only two weeks, giving me little time to adjust any procedures which (since it was the first secret ballot) were bound to have problems.
And yet, in those two weeks, miraculously, I do not think anything major occurred. Everyone who wanted to vote had their vote recorded and counted. The main flaw: participation did drop and it was mostly blamed on me and my changes. And yet, the second election occurred with a similar turnout.
And so, I leave you with a simple hypothesis: The last two elections were the first in the history of the Kingdom which prevented parties from distributing ballots themselves. They were the first two elections in the history of the Kingdom during which there was no live tally of the votes showing which party was in the lead. They were the first elections with only two weeks for parties to react.
Could it be that for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, there was simply less pressure from the various parties to push the vote of inactive citizens? People were surprised that these two elections were the first in history to really elect a minority government after a change of power. But is it that much of a surprise?
I am positing that perhaps there is a link. Perhaps the secret ballot changed the way elections occur because not of changes I supposedly improvised, but rather because the voting process is now in the hands of a neutral official rather than in the hands of the various parties, like in any healthy democracy.
In conclusion, I think it is very easy to point at the guy in charge, especially when that guy is me. But unless someone really tries to understand the issues, there is no hope for a solution.