Election Universe

Modernizing elections – Recommendations by WebRoots Democracy

Modernizing elections – Recommendations by WebRoots Democracy
February 13 2017, 20:02

In January, WebRoots Democracy published a report entitled ‘Democracy 2.0’, which analyzes the progress made since 2015 when the UK’s Speaker of the House, John Bercow, reported the findings of his Digital Democracy Commission.
Recognizing accomplishments, areas where progress is dismal and the raise of new challenges, Democracy 2.0 presents clear and concise recommendations to bring UK democracy to the 21st century.

Although the report was drafted for UK authorities, election authorities from abroad can benefit from some of the ideas and recommendations expressed in the document.

Political will. Political will is one of the biggest hurdles to reform election system. This is true basically anywhere.

The report recommends the creation of a new post that would have the responsibility of advancing a progressive digital democracy agenda based on the proposals made by the 2015 Digital Democracy Commission headed by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

If given enough attributions, this Czar of Digital Democracy could corral forces to overcome resistance, incorporate concerns from all sectors, and push forward the modernization of UK democracy. In other latitudes, the Czar can take the form of a commission that recommends legislations and actions to move forward reforms.

Voter education. WebRoots Democracy calls the UK Government to implement compulsory political education across all schools. The idea is to teach students how to critically analyse what they read or hear so they can cast an informed vote. Fake news and internet trolling, two phenomena that are impacting elections around the globe, are part of the problems to be addressed in this new voter education effort.

In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, called Tech companies and Governments to join efforts in order to fight the raising threat of fake news by educating students. According to Cook, the epidemic of false reports “is a big problem in a lot of the world” and necessitates a crackdown by the authorities and technology firms.

Creation of an Independent Voter Advice Application. To guarantee that voters have access to trustworthy information about candidates and their policies, WebRoots recommends the Electoral Commission to develop an official App in cooperation with political parties, academics and citizens. With so much misinformation populating social media and unreliable news sites, this could prove incredibly useful for the 2020 General Elections.

Online voting. Online voting is in the agenda of many election commissions around the world. Although not a panacea to substitute every voting method, online voting could very well replace ineffective forms of remote voting such as vote by mail.

With approximately 5 million Britons living abroad and only around 300,000 on the electoral roll, any reform that would facilitate online registration and online voting could have an enormous impact enfranchising citizens UK expats.

WebRoot Democracy highlights that every major party in the UK has used online voting for their own elections in the past couple of years. Likewise, trade unions have allowed its members to vote online. If the Electoral Commission wants to consider online voting as an option for the 2020 General Election, pilots would need to take place this year or in 2018.

To learn more about this interesting report, visit WebRoots Democracy.