Response 110309189

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Online voting (eg, on computers and mobile devices)

6. What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of online voting (eg, voting via the internet using a computer or mobile device)?

Comment:
Potential benefits: Ease of use Lower barrier to entry (therefore potential for higher participation) Potentially more cost effective With proper safeguards, this could add rigour to the process and prevent fraud Quicker turnaround of results By running this online, information about the subject being voted upon can be provided alongside or preceding the voting form page. The public could therefore be better informed of the facts of the matter there and then (at the time of their vote), as opposed to searching for the information in advance or having just one subjective view provided to them by e.g. the newspaper they read. Ability to vote wherever you are, on any connected device. Potential drawbacks: Lower barrier to entry may mean voting isn't taken as seriously Without proper safeguards in place, the potential risk of fraud or misuse of data may be higher The provision of information on a subject would need to be fully unbiased and clear for all voters There is a risk some voters may be alienated - other methods of voting would need to remain fully available Risk of technology failure There would need to be a real drive to separate the formal voting process from simply filling in a form or answering a poll or petition online. It would need to be clearly delineated. Support for online voters may require quite a lot of resource (technological, phone help, email support etc) Hosting environment would need to be absolutely watertight and this would be a large-scale undertaking Protection for voters needed when using public wifi

7. What impact, if any, would online voting have on voter turnout?

Comment:
I believe it would increase turnout

8. Would online voting increase the ‘digital divide’ or increase accessibility in elections?

Comment:
If it was done properly then there would be no creation of a digital divide as other voting methods would remain available for those who do not wish to complete their vote online. Likewise, if real resource were provided to back up the initiative, it could prove a really good backdrop to drive an increase in the digital literacy of the nation

Electronic voting at the ballot box (eg, using a voting machine at a polling station)

10. What are the advantages and disadvantages to using electronic voting machines in polling stations instead of paper ballots?

Comment:
Advantages: As before, if the system is implemented with enough security it could reduce fraud and speed up the voting process and turnaround of results Not as much waste of paper Reduced spoiling of ballot papers Disadvantages: Unlikely to increase turnout Additional cost to implement Would need to be fully accessible If a mistake was made, could people retract their response? This would need to be considered

11. Would electronic voting at the ballot box be a useful step towards online voting?

Comment:
It would be a certain kind of improvement to the process, increasing the speed of processing of results and potentially reducing fraud (if done properly, which it would have to be of course!), but I'm not sure that necessarily equates to it being a step towards online voting. I see the fundamental feature of online voting as the ability to vote anywhere, on any device with a secure internet connection.

Best practice and troubleshooting

13. What safeguards would be needed to reassure the public that their digital vote was secure?

Comment:
Really strong password and login rules as well as using confirmation of details from other govt systems. i.e if I put in my name, place of birth, date of birth, address etc. it all has to tally with the information you already hold on me to allow me to vote. Or perhaps, we need to be provided with a number when we register to vote and we need to give this as part of the login form. Independent overseers set up to manage the voting system Restrict access to the site only to those using a secure private internet connection Confirmation of the vote having been made, sent to the person whose voter registration details were used. Clear restriction of the vote to one per person and only those who have registered to vote (e.g. messages on the site if otherwise)