The Labour Party wants to introduce electronic voting if it wins next year’s general election.
Speaking at the party conference in Manchester, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said Labour wants to make it easier for people to vote as a means to “overhaul our democracy” and encourage greater engagement with politics.
He outlined a series of measures including e-voting, holding elections at weekends to raise turnout and opening polling a week in advance to allow early voting.
The former Labour government trialled e-voting, but it was never introduced on a wide scale due to the costs involved and technology problems in some of the trials during local council elections.
In 2003, the count in one St Albans ward was almost scrapped after technical faults threatened to prevent some people voting.
The two largest e-voting projects in the UK at the time were conducted in Sheffield and Swindon in 2003. In Swindon, internet voting was offered to all citizens and turnout increased by 15% - the same number of people who used the internet to cast their votes.
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In Sheffield, voters were offered the choice of traditional, internet, SMS and kiosk voting, along with touch-tone telephone voting and smartcards. The net increase in turnout was 5.2%. Surveys at the time said that in Swindon, 92% of voters said they would use e-voting in a general election if it was available. In Sheffield, 34% said that e-voting made them more likely to vote in an election.
Last year, House of Commons speaker John Bercow launched a commission on digital democracy to investigate the use of technology in parliament, which included re-examining the case for e-voting. The commission is due to report its findings in 2015.
The UK government has a digital services agreement in place with Estonia, which already makes extensive use of e-voting. Estonia is widely regarded as one of the most advanced digital nations in the world.
The government has already put in place a new service to register to vote online, with 80% of the million early registrations taking place through the Gov.UK website.