Liberal Democrat Minister, Tom Brake MP has this week said that he would be ‘very happy’ to see online voting trials take place in the UK. Brake, the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, was responding to the findings of the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy which recommended in January that online voting should be in place for the 2020 General Election.
The findings were debated on Tuesday in a Westminster Hall debate called by Labour MP, Meg Hillier, who sits on the Speaker’s Commission.
The comments come in the same week a BBC/ComRes poll found that online voting was the most popular option amongst young people to increase their likelihood of voting. 63% of the more than 6,000 18 to 24 year old respondents said that online voting would make them more likely to vote.
Last week, WebRoots Democracy’s Viral Voting report was released which found that, in addition to providing numerous benefits to the electoral process, online voting could boost youth voter turnout in a General Election by 1.8 million to 70%.
Speaking in the Digital Democracy debate, Mr Brake highlighted the security concerns with online voting and read out results from his own survey of social media followers which had 64% in favour of the reform. However, he said that support for online voting is ‘not universal’ and would have to be introduced as an option alongside the current methods of voting.
On his own views, the Liberal Democrat Minister said:
“What I would say as a Liberal Democrat as opposed to a Government Minister, I would be very happy for trials to take place in the future. I think, now that we have got Individual Electoral Registration in place, I think that was one of the things that was needed to ensure that we have the building blocks for these trials to take place. So, I hope that is something that will be considered in the future.”
Brake is the first senior Liberal Democrat to voice support for online voting trials, however, in 2011 after outlining plans for a referendum on the use of the Alternative Vote System, Leader Nick Clegg said that ‘it’s important to avoid asking people to keep traipsing to the ballot box.’
The Labour Party are currently the only major UK political party to commit to piloting online voting in the next Parliament with Constitutional Reform Lead, Sadiq Khan MP writing that ‘the way we run our democracy is stuck in a time warp.’
The Viral Voting report makes 10 recommendations on online voting including piloting it in 8 Mayoral elections, introducing online voting in Trade Union strike ballots, and for there to be cross-party agreement on implementing online voting.
Download the Viral Voting report here.
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