Whilst e-voting has been the focus of much of my work, postal voting is a clearly related electoral reform that I like to keep tabs on. I did an assessment of Brighton's pilot (under Postal Voting here) testing all-postal elections in May 2003.
All-postal votes undoubtedly boost turnout in the short term so it's not surprising to see a committee of MPs calling for changes to make postal voting easier. Unfortunately, as with e-voting, detecting postal fraud is difficult. Before we permanently introduce all-postal ballots I'd like to see more explicit discussion of just what measures are being taken to ensure postal ballots are secure. There are options such as digitally checking signatures against those held in the register… but we need to know about the measures, discuss them and analyse them. I fear a culture of security through obscurity is creeping in, It took a lot of work for me to discover how ballots in the Brighton pilot where checked.
As an additional little twist, some think postal voting contravenes the European Bill of Human Rights by removing the right to a secret ballot. I tend to agree, but will this matter to the government in the end when we already breach several treaty commitments by having unique numbers tied to our names on each ballot paper anyway?