Great Britain went to the polls last and is still waiting for a result. It may take days or even weeks for negotiations to form a coalition government to be completed. At worst, the Queen may have to exercise her powers and call for another general election. However, that is not the only big story to come out of the election.
In many polling booths around the country the unexpected high turnout of voters caught polling booth electoral officers completely off guard. This resulted in many voters giving up or being turned away as the polls closed. These people were angry and felt disenfranchised and the exercise highlighted just how archaic and inconvenient having to travel to vote is.
Apart from postal voting, which is also inconvenient, there is little choice. Why? What’s wrong with internet or mobile voting nowadays. If it’s good enough for American Idol, which attracts hundreds of millions of votes each year, why isn’t it good enough to vote for governments?
We use similar technology for banking, buying, document exchange, email, communicating, etc. etc. Surely we could allow everyone registered to vote to use the internet and mobile phones. The idea is fine but the arguments will start about security and vote fixing, etc., big deal, that happens with the current system. Most people in developed countries have access to the technology and if they don’t they could go to a polling both as they do now.
The government already has a record of each eligible voter and they check them off the register when they vote. These voters could be given the option of voting ‘electronically’ and be given a unique ID number or use their current social security or tax ID if they already have one. They would then be issued with a unique PIN to be used when casting their votes. Voting by SMS, browser or application could be easily achieved when you consider what else we can do already.
The benefits are many. Reduced cost of holding elections, savings on petrol not having to drive to the polls, instant tally capability, potential reduction of fraud, more accurate counts, less lost votes – the list goes on.
So what are we awaiting for? We keep hearing of the need for new applications to keep mobile operators’ revenues flowing. Even at a nominal charge of 5 cents or 5 pence per vote, for example, this could really be the ‘killer app’ we have been expecting for years. Has any country out there already introduced this form of voting?