Election Universe

Is it time to introduce electronic voting for UK elections?

Is it time to introduce electronic voting for UK elections?
December 04 2014, 23:02

In our blog, we’ve asked ourselves this very same question in previous posts when addressing the UK and the many other nations in which Internet use is so pervasive that casting a ballot online could soon be a reality. But this time around, the question is being asked by former UK Government Minister and SGO Chairman Lord Mark Malloch-Brown in an article published in The New Statesman.

To favor the adoption of technology in elections, Malloch-Brown stresses how automation can make it easier for voters to cast a ballot, register to vote, or simply help authorities conduct more efficient and transparent processes.

Given the sliding trends in turnout in Europe, and especially in the UK (from a high of 83.9 per cent in 1950, voter turnout in UK general elections has plummeted, with figures dropping below 60 per cent for the first time in 2001), it is important to make voting as easy as possible. According to Malloch “Making voting easier is more important than ever. As we look to devolve more and more decision-making and as governments seek their constituent’s opinions on ever more issues, it can’t be acceptable that the turnout of the Police and Crime Commissioners in 2012 was just 15 per cent. If we plan to remain in Europe, neither can 33.52 per cent in the recent European elections. There is a virtuous circle in increasing the turnout for such contests, raising their prominence and improving the quality of governance and accountability they provide. But to get there we need to drastically improve our use of voting technology.

Providing examples from different successful election automation experiences around the world -like the Philippines, India or Brazil- Malloch promotes an open debate on the convenience of using technology in UK elections. At the end, each one of these countries found different reasons to embrace technology when their own discussion took place. The UK shouldn’t be any different. After some failed attempts around 2007 to implement i-voting, it is about time to retake the conversation.

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net