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Elections should be electronic to increase turnout

Karl Flinders

People died for the right to vote, but now Brits need it to be made easier if they are to bother.

E-voting technology, which could give voters the ability to register their choice over the internet, could make elections more democratic, according to research.

As people go to the polls in local and European elections today, two-thirds of potential voters are expected to decline the opportunity to use their vote.

According to Eurobarometer, only 34% of the 375 million voters in Europe will vote, with the UK figure even lower.

Research by ntl:Telewest Business into the 2007 local elections and found that 46% of Britons say that e-voting would make them more likely to turnout.

Some 57% of 18-34 year olds think electronic voting would make them more likely to vote, while 36% of over 55s agreed with them.

With political parties using Web 2.0 technologies to spread their ideas and win over floating voters, there is a stronger case for voting online. The European Parliament is using Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr to remind voters of key dates and the importance of parliamentary decisions.

Andrew McGrath, commercial director at ntl:Telewest Business, said, "In this digital age, technology offers the perfect solution to increase engagement and enable voters, particularly the young, to join the political conversation through social media tools. The missing link is the ability to vote electronically. Our research found that securely providing this option would boost turnout, widening choice and strengthening democracy."

The Electoral Reform Society, which is focused on introducing proportional representation to UK elections, said the time is not yet right for a fully online public election.

"There are some real (although often overstated) problems with the security of the vote, the need to provide a unique, verifiable but still not traceable method of voting, and the possibility of accidental or malicious disruption to the system.

"Subject to these problems being solved, there is also the dimension that a public voting system requires voter confidence in the integrity of the system, which would probably be lacking."


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