Labour leadership vote is set to be the largest online voting election in UK history

According to the latest figures released by the UK Labour Party, more than 600,000 people will be eligible to vote in the Party’s leadership election.  Voting ballots are to be sent out on Friday 14th August with the selectorate able to cast their vote via post or online.  The vote closes on Thursday 10th September with the result announced 2 days later on the 12th.

The vote is set to be the largest election using online voting in the history of the UK.

The Scottish National Party included an online voting option for last year’s Deputy Leadership election with almost 35,000 voters taking part.  The Labour Party also used online voting for their National Executive Committee elections last year with former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, coming top with 39,000 votes.

The number of voters taking part in the Labour leadership election will be almost ten times more than the number that took part in the 2002 Government pilots of electronic voting.

The demand for online voting in the UK has grown significantly in the past year with a recent poll by WebRoots Democracy and YouGov finding that 56% of the British public want online voting implemented in the upcoming EU referendum.  In London, another WebRoots/YouGov poll found 59% in favour of implementing online voting in the Mayoral election. Leading contenders for Mayor, Labour’s Sadiq Khan MP and the Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith MP have ‘thrown their weight’ behind the campaign.

Labour leadership hopefuls (L-R): Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, and Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour leadership hopefuls (L-R): Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, and Jeremy Corbyn.

With potentially more than 600,000 people taking part, the Labour leadership election could have more voters than the 2015 Parliamentary elections in Estonia in which 578,000 people turned out to vote. Estonia is currently the only country to use online voting in nationwide Parliamentary elections.

Calls for online voting to be introduced in UK elections have been made by Speaker Bercow’s Commission on Digital Democracy as well as the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee.

Across the Atlantic, US President Barack Obama recently stated that online voting ‘should absolutely be a priority’ for technologists saying that ‘the goal should be for “we the people” to mean something in a 21st century context.’

The ‘Viral Voting’ report published by WebRoots Democracy set out ten recommendations in order for the UK to implement online voting which included pilots in devolved Mayoral elections.

Do you think the UK should introduce an online voting option for elections?  Take a moment to sign and share our e-petition.

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