With the General Election coming up, we have been considering the UK’s voting process. As we now conduct so many important aspects of our lives online, from shopping to socialising to dating, it seems a little anachronistic that we still vote using paper and ballot boxes. But would the concept of online voting ever actually work in practise?
The current electoral system involves people making their selections with pencil crosses on slips of paper which are then counted by hand. When it comes to such a momentous issue as who is going to run the country, it seems strange that we are still carrying out elections in such an old fashioned way. There is also the potential for problems such as votes being miscounted or lost, which could have an effect on the final outcome. If a mistake does occur, there is no real way of fixing the issue other than going back to the beginning and recounting all the votes.
Many politicians have backed online voting, with Labour pledging to pilot new electronic voting systems, and studies have shown that 65% of the public support the idea too. It is thought that switching to an online system would improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve security. It would also be more convenient for voters; without the need to actually go to a designated polling station, more people would be likely to cast a vote and turnout would be significantly boosted.
However, there are also fears that electronic voting would make fraud easier and undermine the democratic process, with those in power able to simply manipulate the system to show false results, with no paper trail to worry about. If a tracking or trailing system was incorporated in the electronic voting process, this would essentially violate the principle of voting being secret and anonymous. If people are able to cast votes online, it would not be guaranteed that votes cannot be stolen, forced or given away. These are fundamental issues which cannot be ignored.
The paper system may have its faults, but there are also inherent downsides to an online voting system which means it is not an easy issue to answer. If a new system is introduced, it will require care, research and possibly a few changes to the basic voting system.