Knight Review recommends pilots of online voting for trade unions

Sir Ken Knight’s independent review into e-balloting for trade unions has recommended pilots of online voting be undertaken. Welcoming the recommendation, WebRoots Democracy says it could “pave the way” for online voting in elections.

Writing in the report, Sir Ken Knight said:

“Owing to the number of unanswered questions surrounding e-balloting I am not persuaded that e-balloting for industrial action ballots can be introduced immediately. Instead I recommend that a test of e-balloting on non-statutory ballots is necessary as a preliminary step and that this would potentially be the basis for the Secretary of State to decide the matter.”

Responding to the report, Areeq Chowdhury, Chief Executive of WebRoots Democracy said:

“WebRoots Democracy welcomes the recommendation in Sir Ken Knight’s report to pilot online voting for trade union ballots. The existing paper-based balloting system is totally outdated in the 21st century, and its time for us to implement a modern voting system for a modern workforce.

Online voting would have huge benefits for young people and those with disabilities. The Government should approach these pilots with a view to implementing the reform across all trade union elections at the end.

At the same time, there are growing calls across the country for online voting to be implemented as an option in Parliamentary and Local Council elections. Sir Ken Knight’s report is clear that there is real potential in online voting. Why shouldn’t it be applicable for all elections? Success in these pilots could pave the way for online voting in elections, and the Government should consider its potential throughout the course of this project.”

knight review
Sir Ken Knight has recommended that the Government undertakes pilots of online voting for non-statutory trade union ballots.

WebRoots Democracy’s submission to the Knight Review, E-Balloting: The case for digital-by-default strike ballots, made a number of recommendations including the following:

  • The Government should legislate to allow trade unions the option of holding ballots on strike action, or other issues of concern for members, online.
  • The Knight Review should consider the potential of trialling the concept of ‘repeat voting’ to help guard against intimidation to vote a certain way by employers or colleagues.

Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress accused the Government of “dragging its feet” on the issue and said:

“Unions will engage with any pilots. But today’s review is a missed opportunity.

Union members should have access to the same modern balloting methods as other organisations. If it’s safe and secure for political parties to elect candidates and leaders online, why can’t unions have electronic ballots?

It’s time to bring union balloting into the 21st century. The government must stop dragging its feet on this issue.”

Sir Ken Knight’s report can be read in full here.

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