UK e-minister pushes rethink on online voting

The U.K. government's e-minister, Douglas Alexander, on Thursday urged the government to rethink its policy on voting over the Internet and called on the business and Internet communities to work together with the government to make online voting a reality in the near future.

"I believe it is time to put e-democracy on the information age agenda and for governments to set out what they mean by e-democracy and how they intend to use the power of technology to strengthen democracy," said Alexander in a speech at the Democracy in the Information Age conference in Wilton Park, England.

"We must make citizens feel democratically empowered beyond their few seconds in the polling booth," Alexander said.

In the last U.K. general election in June, only one in four people eligible to vote chose to do so. The 59 percent turn out rate was the lowest since 1918, when many voters were still on active service after World War I, according to a spokesman at the London-based Electoral Reform Society.

In the 18-25 age group over 60 percent did not vote, Alexander said in his speech.

Earlier this year, the Home Office and the Electoral Reform Commission seemingly dismissed the idea of voting by Internet in national elections due to security issues, according to a spokesman at the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), where the e-minister's office is based.

"Introducing electronic voting is mainly a question of offering a package of electronic services -- such as online voting, registration, postal vote application -- in line with other online service initiatives. Of course there are policy questions to consider as well, such as authentication and security, but in broad terms, the act of casting and counting a vote can be considered the 'service' element of the democratic process," Alexander said.

Trials were held in May 2000 for voting in local elections over e-mail, but they were generally considered unsuccessful due to problems with security, the spokesman said. However, the decrease in voter participation has put the idea of online voting back on the agenda as part of a wider, cross-government program to get all of its services running online by 2005, the DTI spokesman said.

According to Alexander, his office is working with the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) to develop a course of action for the implementation of online voting, though "a consultation period will take place before any proposals are put on the table," Alexander said.

But Alexander also admitted that plans for online voting weren't exactly on the fast track.

"There is currently no timetable in place for the initiative, but the permanent introduction of electronic voting would require new primary legislation that has been debated through Parliament. In terms of e-voting, some limited pilots have already taken place and ministers have recently asked for new bids from local authorities to run more e-voting pilots at the next local election in 2002," Alexander said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Laura Rohde

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?