MSP: Online voting will ‘inject a new lease of life’ into Scotland’s democracy

Online voting will ‘inject a new lease of life’ into democracy argues SNP MSP, Ruth Maguire, during a debate in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government is consulting on the reform, following its commitment to pilot the technology.

Speaking in favour of the reform, Maguire said:

“We can all agree that democracy works only when people actually take part. Electronic voting holds huge potential for making it easier to vote, which could in turn increase turnout and engagement. That might be particularly true for younger people, who conduct so much of their lives online, but who are also least likely to turn out to vote.”

scotland caravan polling station
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on electoral reform.

Highlighting a WebRoots Democracy/YouGov poll commissioned in 2016, she further stated:

“In an era of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, hashtags and online petitions, imagine the impact on turnout if people could, for example, simply see a tweet reminding them to vote, click on the link and do just that, whatever the time of day or wherever they might be. Following the European Union referendum in 2016, a YouGov survey found that almost half of the 18 to 24-year-olds who were polled and who had failed to vote said that they would have done so if they had been able to vote online.”

She also cited our submission to the Welsh Government From New South Wales to Wales, UK: The case for piloting online voting in elections that “a digital democracy will become an expectation instead of an aspiration.”

Stuart McMillan MSP, also of the Scottish National Party, stressed the potential of online voting for voters with disabilities:

“Thus far, no member has mentioned accessibility of voting. I chair the cross-party group on visual impairment. At recent meetings we have had discussions about the Scottish Government’s consultation on electoral reform. Cross-party group members who are blind or visually impaired have raised the issue of the problems that they have with voting using the current system, and many suggested that an electronic voting system using tablets or smartphones would improve their access to the electoral process.”

The Government Minister leading the consultation, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, described the lack of progress thus far as “odd” arguing that it seems “extraordinary” that the process “has not materially changed for more than a hundred years.”

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