In light of last week’s polling fiasco – with hundreds of furious voters turned away from polling stations, the new Con/Dem Government has got quite a task on its hands to get to the bottom of what happened and how they can avoid it in future.
In the past, the Government has been more than happy to sit back and promote the idea of a “Digital Britain” but what about a “Digital Government”?
Surely with last week’s lost votes in mind, taking technology into its own hands with e-voting is the inevitable next step? With more and more people going online for goods and services, a sizeable proportion of the population would certainly embrace this method and having piloted the world’s first multi-channel online voting system over ten years ago, I can certainly vouch for the fact that technology should not be a barrier to adoption…so what is holding us back?
We can only assume that the reason is cultural – that people enjoy the ritual of physically attending the polling station. There might also be concerns about how robust such a system would be and the potential fall-out if there was any kind of outage on Election Day.
However, the technology exists nowadays to build highly scalable and redundant web infrastructure to ensure these kind of high-profile, public-facing sites meet requirements. And from a security perspective an online voting platform is a huge, high-profile target for attack, but provided the right security measures are used, people should not be concerned about the election becoming compromised.
Any form of e-voting must be inclusive – and this means creating a true multi-channel platform. What better way for the new government to embody the openness that it has talked about so much over the last few days than to take this momentous step using open frameworks and tools. What we don’t want is a half-baked system where system compatibility becomes as big a hindrance to voting as the old voting stations running out of ballot papers.
In an era where so many of our activities take place online, and with a country of voters in need of encouragement, the scene is perfectly set for the implementation of e-voting. Not only will it allow the new government to showcase its progressiveness, but it should make life much easier for the Government and the voting public further down the line. Its definitely time for the government to start practising what it preaches when it comes to creating a Digital Britain!