We have UK local elections coming up in a couple of weeks’ time, and few things frustrate me as much as paper based postal voting.
Voting is a vital part of our democratic society, yet reading the history of postal voting highlights the bureaucracy and ancient thinking that we expect from government.
It took 83 years to enable postal voting for some people, to letting everyone vote by post.
So rolling out digital voting is going to be a challenge.
By now, we should be able to securely vote electronically.
Electronic voting would reduce the administrative, and legally enforced, nightmare for local councils.
My voting instructions are double-sided with 14 instructions and full of DO NOT do this and DO NOT do that. There are even more instructions on each voting card.
Unfortunately, postal voting is still relatively new – in the UK it was introduced for the general population in 2001. Prior to that, only the armed forces and some civilians who were based abroad or incapacitated could vote by post. One can only imagine how long it will take to enable electronic voting.
There are encouraging signs though. The UK government’s identity assurance scheme is the first of many steps to enable a single, trusted source for a UK civilian’s identity.
There are 34 million people on Facebook whose location is registered as “United Kingdom”. Assuming there are as many foreign civilians who have registered their location as the UK, as there are UK voters who have registered another country, why can’t half the UK population vote inside a Facebook widget? It may even increase the number of voters above the worst ever 15% turnout in 2012.
Once electronic voting is enabled it will be much cheaper and quicker to have referendums. Isn’t that an even better form of democracy?
I look forward to the time when we can log on to the latest social network (whatever it may be) and voting in a few seconds, and making me less angry in the process.