There might be some impersonation at British elections. This is, of course, just as much a matter of the security of our democracy as all that shouting about who shows what adverts on Facebook. And as that episode shows, the security of our democracy is something all agree must be not just preserved but enhanced.
Thus trying to find out how much impersonation there is seems sensible to us:
More than 20 charities and civil society groups have urged the government to halt plans to expand compulsory voter ID, arguing that a trial at local elections in May did nothing to dispel fears it would put off vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
The organisations, including the Salvation Army, Age UK, Liberty and Centrepoint, have written a joint letter warning that the idea was an excessive response to an almost negligible problem of voter impersonation at polling booths.
Well, we don't know that it's negligible, that's what we're trying to find out. By, you know, running trials and tests?
The joint letter, sent to the Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith, said that during the trial 350 people were turned away for not having the correct ID and did not return to vote – and there were just 28 allegations of voter impersonation throughout 2017.
The thing is, one of those numbers is entirely unlike the other. The lower one, 28, is the number which a system of no checks appears to think worth pursuing. The 350 is the number the new system of checks seems to think is worth pursuing.
Sure, we don't know why those 350 didn't return. They were legal but didn't have the docs, they weren't legal to vote, they couldn't be bothered to prove matters either way, who knows?
Note also that the 28 concerns the whole country, the 350 only five local authorities. Of which there are some 400. Meaning that if we scaled up our trial results we'd be talking about 28,000 people nationwide.
Well, yes, that does seem to be worth further investigation, doesn't it? Certainly, those sorts of results concerning Facebook would be bringing calls for regulation. Why not here?