Institute for Digital Democracy launched to ‘transform the way voters experience politics’

Social media on smartphoneThe Institute for Digital Democracy (IDD) – the first think tank to specifically explore opportunities for the digitalisation of British politics – will launch this Wednesday (12th October) from the House of Commons.

Endorsed by a cross-party coalition of policy-makers, the think tank will reveal its research plans along with details of its Advisory Council – a group of academics, businesses and digital experts – that will help generate recommendations on how the government and voters can benefit from the digital advancement of British politics.

The IDD is launching with a call for London to have online voting introduced in 2020 when the City Hall and Parliamentary elections are likely to clash for the first time.

The launch event, that will welcome guests from across the political and digital sectors, will host keynote speeches from the Conservative Party’s Matt Warman MP and the Liberal Democrats’ Rt Hon Tom Brake MP. Both speakers will address guests on behalf of the IDD’s coalition of political ambassadors – a cross-party group of parliamentarians promoting the case for digital democracy within Westminster.

The IDD’s Advisory Council includes representatives from the University of Birmingham, Google and the Trades Union Congress as current members. The Council will be used to support the IDD in terms of research and campaigning – with members on hand to offer expert advice and provide input on research recommendations.

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Commenting on the launch of the IDD, founder and Chief Executive, Areeq Chowdhury, said:

“British democracy is long overdue for an upgrade.  It isn’t good enough to sit on our hands and hope that politics will catch up to the 21st century on its own when all of the evidence suggests otherwise.  With the advice of industry experts and academics, the Institute for Digital Democracy will deliver evidence-based tech policy to sustain the future of British democratic participation.

Through our research undertaken as WebRoots Democracy, we already know that online voting is a must in this day and age, and with an unprecedented administrative burden heading its way to London with the clash of the City Hall and Parliamentary elections in 2020, the Government should seek to pilot this technology in the capital as a matter of priority.

Nine out of ten elected politicians in this country were voted in on turnouts of less than 50%, and that simply isn’t good enough in what is supposed to be a beacon of democracy around the world.

In London, voter turnout in the Mayoral elections has never surpassed 50%.  This is something that should be a source of embarrassment and a wake-up call for successive Governments.

Technology isn’t a silver bullet, but it is fundamental to building a smart democratic process reflective of life in modern Britain.  Through the Institute for Digital Democracy, we will aim to transform the way voters experience politics.”

Born out of the pressure group WebRoots Democracy (a campaign promoting the case for online voting), the launch of the IDD will enable members to explore a wider research remit that examines the full intersection of technology and politics. Whilst the IDD will continue to campaign for online voting, it will also research areas that includes digitalising Westminster, social media campaign regulation, voter advice applications, and the reform of e-petitions.

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