Australian Electoral Commission’s ignorant error

Screenshot of Australian Electoral Commission voter registration form: click to embiggenI’d congratulate the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on their new online voter registration tool, but they’ve made the usual arsehat mistake of assuming everyone’s name consists of at least two words.

This error is doubly stupid, because it means they didn’t test their data entry validation code by running it against the existing database of voters. Oops.

As I wrote in 2011, there’s more than 13,000 Australians with a single-word name, and I know for a fact that at least one of them is already on the electoral roll.

Anyway, apart from looking at the full screenshot, you can read Josh Taylor’s story about this thing, or try the tool for yourself.

5 Replies to “Australian Electoral Commission’s ignorant error”

  1. Surely this is just a great legal defence for not voting? I wouldn’t have picked you for the voting type anyway!

  2. The other mistake they oft make is to place a maximum limit on the length of a name.

  3. Just change your name already. I’m sick and bloody tired of reading about this.

  4. @bacaren: Ah yes, this old trope. Sigh. Since you’ve set the tone of the conversation, I’ll respond in kind.

    First, you choose what you read, and you choose to read what I write. Or not. I am sick and bloody tired of comments like yours. Just change what you read already.

    Second, it’s not about me. It’s about the relationship between service providers and their customers or, in this case, governments and their citizens, and about programmers writing code that reflects established knowledge about real-world naming practices — in this case the practice of more than 13,000 citizens and residents.

    Many of these people will be voters, and all of them were around before this AEC code was written.

    See 40 Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names. Any programmer who writes name-related code that doesn’t take this basic stuff into account is, pretty much by definition, ignorant or lazy, and I stand by my headline.

    On a more personal note, I’m never impressed with imperative-voice instructions telling me what I should and shouldn’t write about, particularly on my own website. How dare you. If you’d like to discuss actual issues related to naming practices and identity, let’s do so. But lazy snipes like yours are not welcome here.

    FNU Mononymous: I seem to have missed your comment in the recent hectic days. Sorry.

    I’m not a lawyer, but given that the online form isn’t the only avenue for voter registration, and the other avenues work, I doubt that this one not working would be a legal defence. There’s no legal right to convenience, or a right to being able to interact online.

    That view doesn’t contradict the point of this post. I don’t imagine I have a right to being able to register online. But if such a system exists, then at least it should be built so it actually works, given what is already known about citizens and their names.

    As for me voting, yes of course I vote! People in other nations have fought and died for that right. It’s the one signal which can influence the government that, as a citizen, I am guaranteed by law. As I say to people who say voting is pointless, “If you don’t want your vote, I’ll gladly have that one too.”

  5. “I’m never impressed with imperative-voice instructions telling me what I should and shouldn’t write about, particularly on my own website. How dare you.”

    I dared.

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