The European Parliament has voted to adopt a set of reforms to the 1976 EU Electoral Act by 315 votes to 254. The reforms include the need for member states to provide an online voting method for citizens living abroad.
The reforms have been brought in to remedy some of the differences between countries in the EU relating to European Parliament elections. According to the European Parliament, these ‘undermine the notion of European citizenship and the principle of equality.’
During the debate, co-rapporteur, Danuta Hübner said:
“We want to adjust the Electoral Act of 1976 to the new reality. The elections to the European Parliament continue to be extremely national. We hope to increase citizens’ interest in participating in this important element of European decision-making.”
Co-rapporteur, Jo Leinen, said:
“The young generation should be encouraged to take part in these elections. The internet generation prefers to vote online, with one click, rather than going to a town hall or a school.”
The reforms propose that all EU citizens living abroad should be able to vote in European Parliament elections and that electronic, online and postal methods should be made available in all EU member states, which includes the UK.
The voter turnout in the UK for last year’s European Parliament elections was just 36% despite television debates, intense media coverage, and millions of pounds being spent on campaigns.
A poll this year, by WebRoots Democracy and YouGov, found that 56% of the British public who are online want an online voting option implemented for the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
The Queen’s Speech earlier this year hinted that the Government may introduce online voting for the 4.6 million UK citizens living abroad.
The proposed reforms to the 1976 EU Electoral Act will now go to the European Council and must be unanimously endorsed before being approved by all member states.
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