The same-sex survey is not anonymous

We have just received our survey form and on the ballot itself there is a bar code and the bar code is different for my wife’s ballot and mine. So far as I can tell, how I vote will be known to someone at the ABS, and perhaps to many many others. The accompanying letter does not give me confidence:

Your response is confidential, by law. It cannot be connected to you. The ABS will destroy all information after the survey is collected.

My assumption was that I would get two envelopes, the first to put my absolutely untraceable ballot into, and then the second to put the first envelope into that I would mail off. That way, my ballot would arrive at the ABS, someone would check on the first envelope that I am a registered voter and, having done so, put the second envelope unopened into the pile with all the other ballots. It is these second envelopes that would be opened and my vote counted only then. That way, no one could possibly know how I voted, either before, during or after.

This way, I cannot tell who will know how I voted nor how that information might be used.

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48 Responses to The same-sex survey is not anonymous

  1. papachango

    No biggie. Everyone who votes Yes has put a picture of their form on Facebo0k, so if you didn’t do this you must have voted No 😉

  2. Peter Campion

    Fair chance they’d’ve guessed anyway, Steve.

  3. Nate

    I assumed it was there so when Yes voters inevitably send in their ballots and then claim to have never received them and ask for another their first vote can be nullified.

  4. Jannie

    Do you think that after the survey they will start hunting down the NO voters for a spell of reeducation?

    Probably not.

    I think.

  5. Bob of Brisbane

    Here was my email to the ABS.
    No reply yet.
    B.O.B.
    ————————————————————
    19 September 2017
    Dear Mr K.
    Re: Australian Marriage Law Survey.
    I note on the form for the Marriage Law Survey that there are two Bar Codes.
    I have telephoned your help line contact centre and been advised that the code “cannot be used to identify the sender”.
    This is ambiguous as it can mean either that the code cannot physically be used or that it cannot legally be used.
    My contact on your help line advised that he suspected it meant just that the code cannot legally be used. If this is correct it means that, putting legalities aside, my answer to the survey is not really anonymous.
    Would you please confirm whether this is correct, i.e. that my answer is not really anonymous.
    Many of us are concerned about the increasing intrusion of “big brother governments” into our private lives and even into our thinking.
    If correct, I therefore consider that including my details on an identifiable bar code on the voting form is a breach of my fundamental right to privacy.
    Could I please have your comments.
    Yours faithfully

  6. Docket62 (deplorable)

    Use a bar code reader

    WGAF

  7. Snoopy

    So Democratic Party funded uncorroborated Moscow-hookers-pissing-on-Obama’s-bed dossier was used by FBI to get a warrant to wiretap Trump’s campaign?

    Where’s the Malmo Kid?

  8. Rob MW

    The whole thing is a waste of time and taxes in any event. It’s just a scam where limp-dicked politicians love playing fooling the fool with a twisp with double dike.

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has pledged to introduce a parliamentary bill to establish marriage equality if Labor wins, even after a negative postal survey result.

  9. Cannibal

    It’s not a referendum, but a survey. It was intended from inception to be a botch-up. As I’ve said before, it enables the politicians to do whatever they want. In hindsight the yessers shouldn’t have challenged this in the High Court such is its farcical nature. The ABS of old would have done a better job of this, but clearly this has been poorly thought out – perhaps on purpose. The upper management of ABS is now well populated by people who weren’t even in the ABS five years ago. Another institution happily trashed by SJW’s in pursuit of their agenda. Remember this organisation wanted to collect and keep your name on the last Census. Now they warn you not to damage or remove the bar code, otherwise your “vote” won’t be counted – clever little monkeys.

  10. rickw

    The ABS of old would have done a better job of this, but clearly this has been poorly thought out – perhaps on purpose.

    Nothing happens by accident.

  11. Zatara

    Ah, but you see it isn’t a “vote” merely a “survey”.

    So all is well…..

  12. Herodotus

    You’ll all be gettin’ a visitation from that dame in the black hat!
    Congrats to Bolt for having the young “fired” lady on his show last night, and to the Australian for making the issue a front page story today – they have beaten the Daily Telegraph to that one, since the DT preferred to feature Des Hasler.

  13. Robber Baron

    I voted NO.

    It’s OK to vote NO.

    I want the whole Ma##iage Act to be repealed, not amended…that’s my reason. Then we are all equal.

  14. Tel

    If you can’t trust the ABS, who can you trust?

  15. Tel

    No biggie. Everyone who votes Yes has put a picture of their form on Facebo0k, so if you didn’t do this you must have voted No 😉

    If it was a real election, that would be illegal.

    However, in the situation we are in I doubt anything would happen to people doing that.

  16. NormaP

    I assumed it was there so when Yes voters inevitably send in their ballots and then claim to have never received them and ask for another their first vote can be nullified.
    I read that the ABS stated this to be the case Nate. What I just found on google relates to replacements for those who didn’t update their address on time:
    ““A replacement form will be sent to their current address and the form sent to their old address will be made invalid.””
    I would assume this apples to other reasons for non-receipt also.

  17. Bruce

    This and several other “capers” are specifically designed to drive real people to deep despair.

    “Stressed” folk tend to do desperate things.

    Such reactions will be used to justify the jackboot stamping even harder on the faces of said real people.

  18. Botswana O'Hooligan

    CASA once did an anonymous survey along the same lines as this one and when I didn’t send mine in I got a reminder note. The bar codes on mine and that of my wife are different and no matter how we folded the paper with “no” on it, it could be read easily by shining a Dolphin Torch on the envelope from the other side. We might as well give in right now for the World as we knew it is buggered.

  19. Rabz

    Yet another reason why I won’t be legitimising this disgraceful insulting sham.

  20. Muddy

    Plus if you mess up your answer due to equality-fever ‘literally shaking’ you can request another one. And another one? And another …?

    This would be such a gift to a strong political leader. If only we had one.

  21. Andrew M.

    The official explanation is here:
    https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/privacy-policy#barcodes
    Key para…

    As soon as is practicable, the ABS will separate the unique code from your survey response, which cannot be re-identified after that time.

    The barcode (or Form ID) on the survey form is used to link a specific form to an eligible Australian. It will be used for “mark-in” purposes only and is a single-use, anonymous code. No person who sees or has any access to any completed forms will know both the name of eligible Australians and the related single-use code.

    So, reading between the lines a bit…. sounds like it is similar principle as Census… it is logically possible to identify individual responses, but they promise to separate the two types of data early in capture, and to compartmentalise the databases, so that later processing cannot figure out how individuals voted.

    Imagine a “Address” table with two columns for an AusPost address barcode and paper sequence number.
    Another “Paper” table with sequence number, age, sex, electorate, but no Form ID.
    And a “Response” table with Form ID, electorate, and actual response.
    The first level of obfuscation is that a response is two steps removed from the person and address, and after setting up the demographics there actually is no need for a linkable column in common between them. That preserves the structure of the information and gets the correct totals, but you’d need the original key assignments (of sequence number to Form Id) from a 4th “Keys” database to identify respondents.

    They only need to know the age, gender, and electorate matching a received paper sequence number to measure participation rates, but don’t need the response written on it. They only need to know electorate and response for a received Form ID, but not the identity or age of the respondent. If these demographic associations have been set up in the tables first, and the Keys database has been destroyed prior to forms being sent out, then it really is impossible to identify a respondent, even though duplicates can still be detected and all the required totals of valid votes can still be produced. In theory.

  22. John Constantine

    Their filth-face Stasi have already been told by their artificial intelligence robots that you have failed to use social media to openly and proudly progress the yes vote for the State, so you are already gulag bound with the rest of the deplorable Unsound.

  23. John of Mel

    The fix is in. Turnbull’s coalition said that the “No” result will take same-sex marriage question off the table for them. That means they are very confident the result will be “Yes”, one way or another.

  24. struth

    I voted No.

    I stand by it, and I don’t care who knows it.

  25. C.L.

    I don’t care who knows I voted NO.

  26. I don’t care who knows I voted NO.

    Amen.

  27. Maurice

    If every ballot had an identical bar code, I would begin photocopying a thousand of these things and all to vote the way I want to.
    Don’t think the activists from the Yes side are already trying to find ways to scam the survey.
    The reason for the unique bar code is that the ABS will scan the survey and take the result in.
    If an identical bar code survey came in, it will be ignored.
    If the bar code was identical then how could fraud be detected?
    Steve’s method will overcome the identical bar code issue but when was the ABS known for its competence

  28. Pat Heuvel

    I’m a software developer and a “glass half full” sort of bloke. When I saw mention of the bar code, the first thing I thought of was that this makes each form unique, so that anybody who wants to stack the votes can’t simply photocopy 10,000 of them, mark them how they want and send them off.

    The “glass” bit means I trust the form’s issuer to honour the anonymity promise. If I can’t trust this, then how can anyone trust anyone who is responsible for information?

  29. The “glass” bit means I trust the form’s issuer to honour the anonymity promise. If I can’t trust this, then how can anyone trust anyone who is responsible for information?

    Indeed.

    Judged by past behaviour (think census) the ABS cannot be trusted.

  30. I’ve been too lazy to read the details, but I don’t think they’re counting every form, they’re doing a stratified sample, then extrapolating the result?

    It worked like a charm for minimum temperatures in Goulbourn and Thredbo.

  31. struth

    I have heard the ABS have contracted this out to the BoM , to assure a favourable result.

  32. Shy Ted

    Mine arrived. Ticked no. Sealed envelope and wrote No multiple times all over envelope and at the bottom – What a waste of $126,000,000. I win.

  33. mh

    I’m about to send in someone else’s survey form that I completed. And it’s NO.

  34. Wrong thread

    Actually, no. The illegal obtaining of and use of information is precisely relevant to the postal survey.

  35. I’ve been too lazy to read the details, but I don’t think they’re counting every form, they’re doing a stratified sample, then extrapolating the result?

    No doubt they’re counting Newtown first.

  36. Pedro the Ignorant

    If anybody wants to go to the trouble of finding out I voted “NO” by reading bar codes or digging out my envelope from a pile of millions, then they can go for their life.

    Could not care less who knows how I voted.

  37. Louis

    Looks like mine was stolen.

    I have started to wonder if the push to legalise SSM is desperately being pushed to happen now because a certain demographic that will never support it is rapidly growing in number and influence.

  38. Bob in Castlemaine

    Steve, disturbing it is, as I see it at some point those of us who value our fragile democracy have no choice other than to stand up to the likes of our Leftist “elite”, the gender fluidity warriors, the GetUps and the Antifa totalitarians who would replace that democracy with the kind of regime we now witness to in Venezuela.

  39. old bloke

    Louis
    #2502867, posted on September 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Looks like mine was stolen.

    Louis, you can request a replacement form online here:

    https://www4.abs.gov.au/web/survey.nsf/amlpspprenqform

  40. Mundi

    There is no way this is anonymous.

    on the left side of letter and ballot, there is a serial number from the mail house who did the printing. It is a sequential number. So anyone with your cover letter, or a copy of it (ie. Government and print house) will know which ballot was yours. even without the horizontal barcode.

    You would have to be dumb to trust government.

    At the very least you should cut the left side barcode and serial numbers off.

  41. The “glass” bit means I trust the form’s issuer to honour the anonymity promise. If I can’t trust this, then how can anyone trust anyone who is responsible for information?

    Do you really think you can? I mean, really?

    These days, possession of knowledge about a person is potential gold to be exploited either through outright fraud or data-mining. And you don’t even have to have given specific permission for your personal information to be used – just go to the supermarket or any shop and pay by EFTPOS. Or just search for and order something on line and obviously pay by credit card – next think you know you’re getting ads for the very thing you just bought or searched for.

  42. mundi

    You would have to be stupid to trust the ABS.

    Go there website and read about the how they link census results to census name and address. They basically claim they don’t, but then admit they do, but they keep the databases seperate, so they could be used to have one look up the other, but trust them they don’t actually do it….

    Remember folks: The privacy act requries they not disclose your info to any government department or body: Including the department of justice. So there is no way you can be prosecuted for not responding to census, or lieing on sensus form. Every single person who has been prosecuted has literally self confessed.

  43. egg_

    If anybody wants to go to the trouble of finding out I voted “NO” by reading bar codes or digging out my envelope from a pile of millions, then they can go for their life.

    Could not care less who knows how I voted.

    +1

    Mum did mine and took a pic of the form for me – I’ll give ’em my barcode, just in case they lost track of it.

  44. Snoopy

    From old bloke’s link.

    Request a replacement Marriage Law Postal Survey

    What to do
    To request a replacement survey form you will need to:
    Provide your driver’s licence or Australian passport details
    Check this box to agree to your information being used to verify your identity

    I agree to my identifying information being checked against government records.

    Contact the Marriage Law Postal Survey Information Line if you don’t have a licence or passport.

    What will happen
    You will be emailed within 48 hours if your identity has been verified.
    You will be sent a new survey form in 7–10 working days.
    Any previous forms will be invalidated.

  45. mundi

    The ABS keep a database linking the barcode to your name, absolutely.

    So its not anonymous.

    Worse than that, there is a sequential serial number on the left hand side.

    If you gave me your cover letter, I could pick through a pile of ballots and find yours, simply be the numbers printed vertically on the left hand side of the page.

    This is 100% not anonymous.

    You are basically 100% trusting government.

  46. Jef

    I would appeal to all “No” voters to cast their votes and not throw away their ballots in a lazy way, because we can for sure expect the ‘Yes” voters will come out in full force. We do not want the Ireland experience to happen in Australia.

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