Australian PM and Opposition Leader commit to online voting in elections

turnbullAustralian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and his opposition counterpart, Bill Shorten, have endorsed a cross-party push to introduce online voting in elections. The announcement came after Shorten conceded defeat to Turnbull’s Coalition in the recent federal elections in Australia.

It follows an eight day vote count which is yet to deliver a formal election result.

Shorten, the leader of the Labour Party, is to write to the Prime Minister, who is already an advocate of online voting, this week to offer cross-party support for the reform.

Whilst conceding defeat in the election, Shorten said:

“We’re a grown up democracy, it shouldn’t be taking eight days to find out who’s won and who’s lost.  I take nothing away from the professionalism of the Australian Electoral Commission, but it’s the 21st century.”

Responding in his victory speech, Prime Minister Turnbull backed the call saying that it is something that they “must look at” and that it has been a “passion” and “interest” of his for “a long time.”

turnbull shorten
Prime Minister Turnbull (L) and Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, are joining forces to call for online voting in elections.

In March, last year, the state of New South Wales in Australia held (at the time) the largest binding government online delivered election in the world using their iVote system.  The online voting method received a 97% satisfaction rate amongst users.

It is unclear what the position is of the incoming UK Prime Minister Theresa May on online voting, and the Government’s current stance may be affected by any potential Cabinet reshuffle.  The opposition Labour Party committed to piloting online voting in their 2015 manifesto with many of their MPs, including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, vocally supportive of the reform.

Following the EU referendum, youth organisations in the UK, including the National Union of Students and Bite the Ballot, joined forces to tell the incoming Prime Minister to introduce online voting in an open letter published on the WebRoots Democracy website. More than a thousand people have also added their name to the petition for online voting on the Parliament website.

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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