Make them WANT to vote before making it easier

The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/26/uk-e-voting-elections-electoral-commission-voters – has reported that the Electoral Commission recommends the UK to consider allowing internet voting to increase voting turnout especially among younger electors.

As STV Action’s only object is to promote the Single Transferable Vote (STV) voting system, we are neutral on whether internet voting should be introduced, but we have two important reservations.

One is that no new method of voting should be introduced without vigorous safeguards against inaccurate results, whether by accident or deliberate manipulation.  Votes must be counted accurately and must be seen to be counted accurately; the public must have confidence in the method.  We must feel sure that an accidental software or programming fault or deliberate tampering has not distorted the election result.  In view of abuse of postal voting in recent years, it would also be essential to ensure that no-one could vote instead of someone else or vote in multiple fictitious names.

The other is that making it easier to vote would not necessarily make more people want to vote.  An important reason for not voting is the very justified perception that voting makes no difference.  In about 70% of constituencies (the safe ones), the result is a foregone conclusion so people feel that there is no point in voting and who can blame them?

Changing the voting system from First Past The Post to STV would do more than anything else to make the vast majority of votes effective and give electors a reason to vote.  That is more important and more urgent than introducing internet voting or other ways to make it easier to vote.

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