For starters it should be possible to vote online—as it is in Estoniaby Antonio E Weiss , Gabriel Huntley / April 26, 2016 / Leave a comment
In May 2015, Britain showed that its tradition of democratic participation is alive and well, when a contest that had provoked passionate debate came to its closely fought end. Indeed, the final of Britain’s Got Talent was watched by nearly 12m people. Of course, it wasn’t the only poll taking place that month. But in contrast with the general election, BGT had moved with the times, and audience members of the reality show could cast their votes through a smartphone app.
Votes in the general election were cast on paper, as they always have been. In the end, 34 per cent of the electorate did not participate; the victorious Conservative party only received 24.3 per cent of the vote. Some of the causes of political disengagement seem well-understood. Trust has been undermined by successive scandals. We now have less faith in politicians than we do in estate agents, according to Ipsos MORI. Similarly, research by YouGov suggests that just one in ten Britons believe that politicians try to do what is best for the country.
Yet the British Social Attitudes survey shows that the proportion of people with “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of interest in politics has actually increased in the past three decades. Over half of us say that we would take part in a citizens’ assembly on important issues facing our local community, and nearly everyone (92 per cent) believes that people should be involved in the design and delivery of services, according to research by the Community Development Foundation.
It is only by redesigning the democratic process for the 21st century that we can rebuild trust and revive political engagement. In the same way that industries are being disrupted by new platforms and technology, politics too must adapt. We propose three changes to politics that embrace the power of technology. Digital solutions are not an end in themselves, but they can make citizen engagement and participation possible in new ways.
First, it should be possible to vote online. Estonia brought in online voting in 2005. By the 2015 Estonian parliamentary elections, 30.6 per cent of votes were cast…