back to article EU referendum frenzy bazookas online voter registration. It's another #GovtDigiShambles

Registration to vote in the UK's EU referendum has been extended until midnight June 9 after No. 10's voter registration web site crashed. Legislation is being introduced to the House of Commons to extend the deadline for those wishing to register to vote in this month's referendum, minister for the Cabinet Office and …

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How come....

...whenever the IT manager says to the tech guys "How many servers will we need to handle this system/game?" And the tech guys say "Oh five should do it!" That they haven't learned by now to quadruple whatever figure they say.

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Re: How come....

In my experience, the tech guy says 5, the IT manager agrees, but the MD or bean counters say "That's too expensive, we'll manage with 2"

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The Cabinet Office claimed 500,000 people did successfully register on Tuesday.

That's a bit like describing the Second World War as a humanitarian success story because 2.3 billion people survived it.

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Re: The Cabinet Office claimed 500,000 people did successfully register on Tuesday.

You'd think these sort of government services that will spike once in a blue moon would be better off with elastic infrastructure patterns.

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Coat

Re: How come....

but the MD or bean counters say "That's too expensive, we'll manage with 2"

Yes they'll have started with 2, but then the techies in the know (i.e. not the PHBs) will have realised how inadequate this is and will have surrepticiously aquired:-

1) The Project Server that GDS is supposed to use to keep work delivery on schedule but no-one knows is there.

2) The Sharepoint cluster that the Department of Health is supposed to use for secure document storage, but which doesn't get used because Betty in admin has lost the post-it note with the password on it.

3) The fancy SQL Server clusters with full replication that were recommended by some smarmy consultant, which were supposed to be used by the Inland Revenue collections department, but which aren't in use because they ran out of budget before the front end was developed.

Result - 10 shiny new servers. Wipe all, install Windows Server 2012 / IIS / SQL Server, take one look at the GUI, scream, wipe all again, install Redhat / LAMP stack, all clustered together, running nicely with maximum resource load a whisker under 30%. Luverly.

It was all going so well until...

June 7th 21:40 - BOFH has had enough of watching Farage and Cameron, or anyone else for that matter, talking utter bollocks about the referendum and decides that drastic action is required. He casually drops 8 servers out of the cluster, turns off the lights, and whistling happily to himself, heads down the pub for a well deserved pint or 3 as the meltdown begins...

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Re: How come....

Sigh...so you say 10 knowing you'll only get the 5 you need.

Have you never done that? Works quite well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How come....

> Sigh...so you say 10 knowing you'll only get the 5 you need.

Nah, it's too much fun pulling out the email and saying "I told you so, muhahaha!"

Anon because... well...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How come....

Result - 10 shiny new servers. Wipe all, install Windows Server 2012 / IIS / SQL Server, take one look at the GUI, scream, wipe all again, install Redhat / LAMP stack, all clustered together, running nicely with maximum resource load a whisker under 30%. Luverly.

That's actually the real problem. When New Labour came in, they started a love affair with Microsoft and that infection of consulting-money driven idiocy has still not left the government despite some small wins like making ODF the default doc format (which, incidentally, resulted in a wholesale change of nothing whatsoever due to just how deep Microsoft has its claws in the system).

The problem is that with Microsoft comes a default acceptance that you need a shedload of resources to keep things running, so the inevitable excuse is always resource shortages rather than resource waste by an OS that has no business being used at the industrial levers you need for government. Microsoft servers generally don't unless you throw at least twice as many resources at it that you need for any form of Unix - why do you think the big boys such as Google, Amazon et al run Linux derivatives?

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Re: The Cabinet Office claimed 500,000 people did successfully register on Tuesday.

LOL! This is one of the best comments I've ever read on here :-)

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A pity that whilst Corbyn can pontificate about registering to vote he can't seem to be bothered to vote himself on something as important as the IP Bill.

Why is that?

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-06-07/division/16060743001404/InvestigatoryPowersBill?outputType=Names

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Well David Cameron, Osborne, Timmy Mallet, Zippy, John Cena didn't vote on it either.

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@Vimes. To be fair, if you're the leader of a party then you sometimes have other work to be getting on with. In this case, I guess he has been busy trying to keep the country in the E.U., which is the Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition's current position, I believe. Often, an MP will agree with another MP who would've voted the other way to also not vote, so the end result remains the same. That's the case in a single line whip. A double line whip requires attendance and a three line whip "is a strict instruction to attend and vote, breach of which would normally have serious consequences."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whip_(politics)#United_Kingdom

Anyway, he was _registered_ to vote. He just chose not to!

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He's for it but...

He can't vote no because that would mean his party would have to too and that would mean with the Tories' slim majority it's in danger of not passing.

He can't vote yes because it looks bad.

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I wouldn't necessarily take the list of people who didn't vote as a cast iron sign of their support or otherwise because there is an agreement called pairing. This is where if an MP on one side is absent then an opposition MP will step aside and not vote to balance things out. http://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/pairing/

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@Michael B.

That only works in cases where the total number of MPs in one party match the numbers in the other. Otherwise it can skew the results.

Pairing isn't an excuse IMO: it's just a way of abdicating responsibility whilst maintaining a veneer of acceptability at the same time.

Pairing should be banned. And Corbyn should be ashamed of himself if this is why he didn't turn up.

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If it was pairing, I think someone other than the leader of the opposition could have been found.

In theory an MP's vote and a party leader's vote are worth the same, but a party leader also has to show leadership on bills such as this.

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Grow a pair

@Symon

It is called 'pairing'. The advice to every new MP is to grow a pair (or whatever, depending on sex).

So the PM is paired with the leader of the opposition and so on all the way down; as a result they don't have to be bothered with minor votes.

The ones who get left out are the newest MPs in the governing party. It is not surprising that sometimes they feel rebellious. The junior opposition MPs have great fun choosing who will be their pair.

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"Asked yesterday why the site had crashed, the Cabinet Office was unable to say but said its executives were in a meeting to determine the cause."

I'm sure that will help....

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Trollface

"Asked yesterday why the site had crashed, the Cabinet Office was unable to say but said its executives were in a meeting to determine the cause find someone to blame."

There, FTFY.

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Blamestorming

Ah yes - a blamestorming meeting!

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Anonymous Coward

You pay peanuts...

..you get monkeys

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I'm in two minds about this...

One part of me says sod those who left it until 10pm or later yesterday - we've known for months there's going to be a referendum, and the voter registration site has been up for even longer, so if you're really interested in voting, you've had plenty of time already.

The other side of me says it's human nature to leave things to the last minute (how many people file their tax returns in the last hours of Jan 31st every year?), and the government should have specified the servers could be capable of handing the expected last minute surge.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

I'm in the 'sod them' camp. They've had plenty of time to register to vote, and there is a legally defined registration limit whatever the quality of the online registration process. I'm a bit more sympathetic to voting after the 10pm limit on polling day, if you have already joined the queue before 10pm.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

No, voter reg is open all year round so more like PAYE and not a window in time as with tax returns.

How about people maintain their registration and rights outside of election time? You know, like you're supposed to.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

IF you have joined the queue before 22:00, but IN the queue at 22:00 then you will be issued with a card and allowed to vote.

Anyone who turns up 22:00:01 will NOT be allowed to vote.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

I believe if you are not in the polling by 10pm you are officially out of luck. However some returning officers have allowed those in the queue at 10pm to enter the polling station thus allowing those people a vote.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

"No, voter reg is open all year round so more like PAYE and not a window in time as with tax returns."

On line tax returns (at least UK ones) aren't a 'window in time' either - for the due year you can submit them pretty much any time without penalty until 31 Jan, and pretty much any time after 31 Jan with a penalty.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm in two minds about this...

me to. Got my postal vote organised a month ago when I realised I was going to be away on the 23rd. Posted the Vote off last week (voted to stay BTW) We get the same thing where I work. Boffin going away on research cruise, container due to be packed and shipped Friday, when do they show up to ask for IT equipment, that'll be Thursday lunchtime then. Deadline for submitting that big grant proposal application 4pm, when are they desperately trying to get it submitted during an JANET DDNS attack 345PM

How some of these people manage to find their own way home baffles me at times!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm in two minds about this...

yep I get my return filled out over the course of the year, get it submitted at the start of Jan and normally pay up with a good couple of weeks to go before deadline day.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

The thing is.... this wasn't an advertised meat sale.

(So you turn up, late Saturday afternoon, and all the cheap meat has gone)

The date and time was set... where a person could register to vote.

It wasn't stated with the caution, that 'if you turn up backendish you might not be able to register'.

Add to that, the fact that the final dash to register, was always going to happen.

.... then factor in the technical capabilities that the government could bring to bear on managing this registration system...

What we get is a pure and simple failure to provide the correct systems.

It's no good blaming people for behaving like people, when dealing with the mass of general public.

This is what governing people is all about.

So who's fault is it?

It's probably down to the Civil Servants.

They are employed to implement the will of the government.

We can be sure that they are now developing complex excuses.

It's not even beyond reason that they are turning the failure to their advantage, to gain an increase in their IT budget.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

"It wasn't stated with the caution, that 'if you turn up backendish you might not be able to register'."

Actually it was.

"... the commission is warning millions of unregistered voters not to leave it too late as no application will be accepted beyond the deadline."

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/07/surge-in-voter-registrations-expected-before-eu-referendum-deadline

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

That says beyond, not near the end but before.

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Re: I'm in two minds about this...

Clearly, Cameron assumes that unregistered voters who've left it til the last moment are mostly gullible young people who are more likely to vote 'Remain'.

I wonder if he's right.

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Presumably the service was set up in expectation of a certain demand.

That a lot of people decided at the last minute (almost literally) to register, when the portal had been available for weeks, and publicised as such, is unfortunate but was it predictable?

If you are of a suspicious mind, you could conceive that as the recent surge in registration was among younger voters, who are predicted to be more Remain than Leave, that the 'crash' might have been down to Brexiteers trying to overload system and thus gerrymander the outcome.

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More likely, BRemainers *who own the server* took it briefly offline, so that in case the referendum gave the wrong result, it could be challenged. The UK will be asked to vote again until we give the right result.

Here is a list of EU referendums, and their results:

European Constitution:

No: France (55%), Netherlands (62%)

Cancelled: Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, UK, Denmark

Yes: Lux (57%), Spain (77%)

Every one of the Constitutions actionable provisions has now been passed into law separately.

Ireland rejected the treaty of Lisbon, 53.4% in 2008. So they were required to vote again on 2009, and duly gave the required answer (67.1%)

Greek citizens voted clearly to exit the EU, and that was ignored.

The UK will simply be asked to continue voting until they give the right answer.

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Fanciful. But we will see a real effort to game the postal vote with immigration arguments in 'mixed heritage' communities and Remain doing nothing about it.

For the preservation of democracy, if a constituency postal vote differs from the ballot box by a statistically significant amount it should be considered potentially fraudulent and investigated and the vote suspended if it materially effects the results. Yeah, ain't gonna happen.

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"The UK will simply be asked to continue voting until they give the right answer."

If I am asked to vote again after a clear decision, I will vote for whoever previously won, on principle.

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Facepalm

Scotxit

Like Scotland & Independence

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I wouldn't put it past a group of anti-referendum activists paying for a DDOS so they could throw the result into question.

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Anonymous Coward

determine why its voter registration site crashed

Please let me think hard about this... OK, having consulted my extensive experience and know-how, it's because too many people, all at once, wanted to register by deadline. Think leaves on the railway track, snow in winter, online tax returns,etc. These are ALWAYS totally unexpected.

p.s. I prefer my £1M consultancy fee as a check, rather than bank transfer and it's got nothing to do with my unwavering faith in NatWest banking system.

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Headmaster

Re: determine why its voter registration site crashed

We'd just like to check what currency you'd like your cheque in?...

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Re: determine why its voter registration site crashed

If they had a half-decent load-balancer in front of the servers then huge demand shouldn't cause a problem.

Some people would be told 'we're a bit busy - keep trying' but it shouldn't actually break the site.

Please, someone, tell me they weren't running a single web server with no load control mechanism*!!

*I mean, if you know that is - don't just make it up :P

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Re: determine why its voter registration site crashed

"We'd just like to check what currency you'd like your cheque in?..."

Czech?

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Re: determine why its voter registration site crashed

We'd just like to check what currency you'd like your cheque in?... And which bank you have now transferred to as apparently NatWest is pants?

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So the site failed with and hour and a half to go before the deadline because loads of people suddenly tried to register to vote.

And then people complain.

Really?

Look guys, It's the most important decision we're going to make in a generation, and you've had months and months of build-up.

Given that, why did you leave it it till 10:30pm on the last possible day to finally decide to register to vote? Was that really sensible? What does it say about how much you actually care about the issues you'll be voting on?

Pardon me if I don't have any sympathy for you if the site happened to be down at the time. You had plenty of time to do it.

I have more sympathy for the site administrators who probably had a wretched night trying their best to keep the thing up and running for those last few hours, just to support a bunch of lazy muppets who couldn't be bothered to spend five minutes visiting the site at any time during the preceding months.

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If somebody is so disinterested to register 90 minutes before the deadline, there's bugger all chance of them turning up at the polls in the first place.

And even less chance of them having bothered to consider their opinion for more than 30 seconds.

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On the other hand, the deadline was midnight, so everyone had a reasonable expectation they could register up until midnight.

I feel the same, everyone should have registered earlier - and I am somewhat surprised at the number needing to register - but, as an earlier poster stated, it's human nature to leave things to the last minute and we are well aware of that.

The ultimate question is; is it fair to deny someone the right to exercise the vote they are entitled to because they left it late and the system crashed?

And did anyone warn people that could or would be the case? The answer seems "no"; they were told they could register until midnight, yet they were not able to do so. The fault does not seem to me to rest with the victims.

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Dear Disgusted

They weren't disinterested, they were uninterested. I'm surprised someone with your moniker doesn't know that.

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