Election Universe

Scotland’s democratic engagement and the road ahead

Scotland’s democratic engagement and the road ahead
April 22 2015, 18:13

The hugely successful delivery of the recent Independence referendum demonstrated that Scotland is leading the way in terms of democratic engagement and effective election administration. With almost 85% of the electorate turning out to vote, an unprecedented proportion in recent decades, the referendum put Scottish democracy firmly on the map, not just in the UK, but worldwide.

If that wasn’t enough, the forthcoming UK Parliamentary election and importantly the 2017 Local Authority elections, will give further opportunities for Scottish Local Authorities and Returning Officers to demonstrate their effective management of these complex, time critical events.

But will it be possible for Scotland to maintain the gold standard it has set itself?  Do the changes implemented in Scotland during the referendum support the needs of future generations?

The Speakers Digital Democracy Commission recommends that secure online voting should be an option for all voters by 2020.  But this is not a change that will come about overnight, nor is it a fix-all solution for elections of the future.

The period between now and Scotland’s delivery of Local Authority elections in 2021 will hopefully see a secure and well planned evolution of many areas of voting and election practices.  This will undoubtedly include greater harnessing of technology to support all stages of the electoral process, not just at the ‘coalface’ of voting (though the use of technologies such as online voting and/or electronic voting), but also for back-office election functions in administrative offices, polling stations and count environments.

Technology has penetrated all aspects of our lives. It empowers us to communicate, transact, monitor and engage, from our laptops, tablets and smartphones.  If we can track parcels through their delivery lifecycle online, why, as Election Administrators, can we not track critical election assets and events? Why can’t we know instantly whether a ballot box has left a polling station, or arrived at a count hall or receive an instant update on the despatch of ballot papers and their expected delivery time?

In reality – we can. There is technology available that is being harnessed by election administrators all over the world to complete these tasks.

Smartmatic’s Election-360 Election Dashboard empowers election administrators to dynamically track a wide range of election events and assets, to provide full-visibility, universal oversight and unparalleled management information.

Smartmatic’s ePen solution allows election administrators to receive ballot box account information, in advance of the ballot box physically reaching the counting centre, so that work can already commence on the verification of the presiding officers paperwork.

Smartmatic technologies support the entire administration of elections, ensuring greater efficiency, transparency and security of each election event and can assist election administrators in Scottish Councils in continuing to deliver ‘best-practice’ in election administration.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net