Response 860249145

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Peter Clark

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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)?

In my view the potential benefits are: 1) Moving voting into the modern age, I think it is essential that ways of exercisig democracy keep up with techniology and the ways society operates in order to encourage people to participate. 2) Society has changed and the local community is less relevant to many people. Therefore they are not in the habit of using local facilities that might house a polling station. Online voting will engange these peopel and make them more likely to vote. The main drawbacks of the process are: 1) Security concerns, one of the main ways in which electoral fraud is discouraged is that it would take a large scale operation that affects many polling stations or postal votes to affect the result of all but he most marginal Parliamentary Constituencies. Online voting would create the ptoential for hackers to commit electoral fraud in many constituencies at once and potentially affect the result of a national election. 2) The additional cost that would be incurred (see below)

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

Online voting would have a modest increase in turnout. It is my opinion that anything that makes voting easier makes people more likely to vote. Turnouts would be much lower now if not for postal voting. However, if an individual simply does not care about the body that is being elected they will not vote even if it is easy. The majority of people who do not vote, simply do not want to or feel disinvested from the process. Online voting will not change this.

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

Online voting would increase accessibility in elections. My reasons for this that most people who do not have online capability and would not be confident or would not have the skills to vote online are generally older people who are more likely to vote under the present arangements. Online voting would make voting more accessible to younger people who live much more of their lives online but rarely interact with local community infrastructure and rarely use the post. There are also many younger disabled people who regularly use the internet but have mobility issues that they feel makes it harder for them to travel to the polling station. It would also make it easier for armed service personnel stationed overseas to vote without having to rely on air mail.

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?

The main advantages are: 1) Speed of results, the result and turnout would be know as soon as postal votes have been counted after the close of poll. 2) There would be savings in the cost of printing ballot papers. 3) There woudl be a saving in the cost of election counts and increased accuracy of the counts. The main disadvantages are: 1) A recount would be impossible and if there was a suspicion of personation it woudl be impossible to tell if the vote that person cast had affected the result (this is possible under the current system). 2) Many older people use polling stations and like being able to mark a ballot paper in the traditional manner. These people may not be comforatble using a machine. 3) The machines would either: have to be able to operate multiple voting systems (not just first past the post) and with many candidates (European Election ballot papers have had as many as 15 different candidates on) or they hwold have to restricted to use in only certain elections. This would make the system less value for money. 4) The cost of the machines themselves and the additional costs of the polling booths as it would be unlikely that they would fit into the different types of polling booth used around the country. While this cost will be recouped over time through the lack of ballot paper prinitng cost it will still be a significant initial outlay.

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

No, electronic voting at the ballot box still requires people to go to the polling station. The main attractiion of online voting is that it can be done at home or on mobile devices while people are going about their day. People would have to take time out of their day to go to the polling station to vote even if it is electronic when they get there. I think it would be seen as a "gimmick" by many people that has no real value in increasing turnout or making young people feel more democratically enganged.

Best practice and troubleshooting

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

The system would have to meet the most stringent ICT security protocols. It would also have to be fully localised so peole can be secure that if the system is comromised in one local area that all the rest are still secure.