General election 2017: online voting would boost turnout, study suggests

Written by Public Technology staff on 8 June 2017 in News
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As voters head to the polls, new research suggests online option could help increase participation among non-voters

Almost half of the people not planning to vote in today’s general election would be more likely to cast their ballot if they could do so online, according to new research.

Broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk surveyed 1,700 people who are eligible to vote, with 42% of non-voters saying they would be more likely to vote via the internet if such an option was made available.

Half (50%) of those who told the site they were still undecided about whether to vote said they would be more likely to if they could cast their ballot online.


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Meanwhile, 47% of all survey participants - including voters and non-voters - expressed the same view: that online voting would make them more likely to turn out.

The findings chime with one of the central recommendations of the Digital Democracy Commission - set up two years ago by House of Commons speaker John Bercow - which called for secure online voting to be rolled out nationwide by the end of the decade.
 
The Commission said online voting “has the potential greatly to increase the convenience and accessibility of voting”, with the separate Electoral Commission - which regulates the conduct of elections - saying in response that it would “consider carefully the balance between maintaining the security of the system, whilst making it as accessible as possible for voters as part of this”.

Cable.co.uk’s survey may also make for worrying reading in Labour HQ, as the party is relying on a high turnout among those who have previously stayed at home. 

But the study found that almost a quarter (24%) of those who said they were certain not to turn out would vote Labour if they had to choose a party. Just under a fifth (16%) of non-voters backed the Conservatives, 14% opted for UKIP, while the Greens and the Liberal Democrats scooped 6% each.

Londoners proved the most enthusiastic respondents to the idea of online voting, with 68% saying a web option would make them more likely to cast their ballot.

Launching the findings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said it was “somewhat shocking that so many with no plans to vote would do so if it saved them a short trip to the nearest polling station”.

“Online voting is almost certainly the future,” he added. “The key question is whether such a system can be adopted in a way that is beyond the potential interference from hackers.”

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