Scotland poised to solve ‘beautiful problem’ of online voting

The Scottish Government are to launch a consultation on democratic reform which will include the potential of remote online voting in elections. Speaking at an event at Edinburgh University, Minister for Parliamentary Business, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP called for reform of a voting system “unchanged since Victorian times.”

The all-day conference, entitled ‘Scotland’s Democratic Future: Exploring Electronic Voting’ was chaired by Professor Aggelos Kiayias of Edinburgh University’s informatics department who described the challenge as a “beautiful problem.”

The event explored the challenges, solutions, and opportunities of electronic and remote online voting platforms. Opening the event, Scottish Government Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, said he is “confident” that trials of electronic voting can go ahead in Scottish elections. Representatives from other organisations such as the Electoral Commission, the Electoral Management Board, and WebRoots Democracy, also spoke at the event.

The all-day conference was held in Edinburgh.

Andy O’Neil, Head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland explained how the “desire” for online voting exists and is strongest amongst young people. Areeq Chowdhury of WebRoots Democracy said the move would be “the biggest reform to the system since women were given the vote.”

Election technology companies such as Scytl, Smartmatic, and Idox explained their platforms and presented case studies of where they have implemented electronic voting, and Edinburgh University academics from various disciplines elaborated on the challenges, solutions, and legal implications of such a reform.

The consultation follows a similar move by the Welsh Government who recently sought views on democratic reform and online voting. WebRoots Democracy’s SNP Ambassador, Hannah Bardell MP said the Scottish Government were “showing the way forward” on democratic reform.

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