Before, and duly arrived at the question: ‘Does the way we market politics in the UK need a re-fresh?’.
In a world where so much of our lives are lived digitally – from the way we communicate both personally and professionally, to the overall flow of our finances – is UK politics missing a trick when it comes to supporting the electorate to vote online? Money is the most important element in most people’s lives – and also that most likely to be affected by administrative changes within the UK government – and yet digital accessibility around the decision-making processes involved for each could not be more different.
We can literally move thousands of pounds in the blink of an eye through an app on our mobile phone, but when it comes to electing a new leader for our country the ‘go to’ option still involves a pencil and paper and the village hall, just as it always has done. Despite this, talk around a new generation of voters having completely lost interest in politics continues to flow. Teenagers today would appear to be more interested in voting for their favourite X Factor contestant than they would their local councillor, AM or MP.
When it comes to supporting our favourite reality TV stars, voting couldn’t be easier of course. A simple text in most cases is all that’s needed to make our opinion known these days – so why not make it as easy to vote when it comes to an all-important general election? As a nation which prides itself on its ‘cutting edge’ approach to many things, our efforts compared to others are somewhat lacklustre when it comes to employing digital within a mass voting system.
The first known use of the term CyberVote was by Midac in 1995 when they ran a web based vote regarding the French nuclear testing in the Pacific region. The resulting petition was delivered to the French government on a Syquest removable hard disk. Since then electronic voting has been widely accepted in other countries including Belgium, which has been using it for general and municipal elections since 1999, and Brazil, where all elections have been fully electronic since 2000, among others.
In Britain it is possible to register vote electronically, but not yet to actually cast your vote online – but why not? And why aren’t more political parties moving the way they market their activities and reaching out to voters online too? What if you could set up a political party online and allow every single person to vote via their mobile or digital device – wouldn’t you be tapping into a new generation of voter where the traditional polling station and door knock approaches are so evidently failing?
Wouldn’t life be a whole lot easier if we could all just Text 1 to vote for our next Prime Minister?