The Government in Wales has today announced plans to consult on various reforms to the electoral system including the implementation of a remote online voting option in elections.
It is argued in the proposals that there is a risk that the traditional pencil and paper method of voting will become an “anachronistic relic” and “divorced from the normal experience.”
Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Local Government Secretary, said:
“There’s no reason why 16 and 17 year olds can marry, pay taxes and join the army but can’t vote in our elections. There’s no reason why, in the 21st century, we can carry out all sorts of daily transactions online but can’t, as of yet, vote online.
That’s why we’re setting out a number of different ideas to modernise the electoral system and putting out a call for the public to share their ideas with us too.”
The scope of the consultation also includes plans to lower the voting age to 16, allow any non-UK citizen legally living in Wales to vote in local council elections, as well as changing polling day to a non-working day.
Responding to the consultation proposals, Areeq Chowdhury, Chief Executive of WebRoots Democracy said:
“We welcome the plans set out by the Welsh Government to consult on democratic reforms for Wales. We have long argued that we should approach our democracy as we approach our devices. They should both be accessible, user-friendly, and kept up-to-date with the times in which we live.
Online voting would revolutionise democracy in Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. Whilst it has its challenges, it makes no sense for us to continue indefinitely into the future with a voting system designed in, and for, the 1800s. It is fantastic that the Welsh Government has included online voting in the scope of this consultation, and we urge the UK Government to explore these reforms, too.”
Online voting is currently used to varying degrees in countries such as Australia, Canada, Estonia, and India. Should the Welsh Government decide to press ahead with pilots of online voting, they will be the first such pilots in the UK since 2007.
Responses and proposals can be submitted on gov.wales/consultations before the deadline on the 10th of October 2017.