Opinion: Why tapping an app should be the way we vote in future

Politicians always keep an eye on the weather forecast on polling day as rain can mean a low turnout.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 2:58 pm

But in 2021, why are we still relying on storm clouds, stubby pencils and rickety booths in church halls for the democratic process?

People can go to a supermarket or gym in the early hours of the morning yet we have a midweek polling day between the hours of 7am and 10pm.

Postal votes take some degree of organisation and for anyone already feeling apathetic about voting, it can feel too much of a hassle.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Polling Station Stafford Road Sheffield

Every year, turnout is dissected but we do little to make it as easy as possible for people.

Electronic voting is the way forward.

People might feel it’s insecure but is it any more chancy than sending a postal vote and hoping it will wind its way through the Royal Mail system to arrive at the Town Hall?

Is it any more risky than marking an X on a scrap of paper and putting it in a ballot box which is then tipped out on tables in a big hall and sorted through by hand?

Lucy Ashton.

People nowadays can run their whole lives online – I can book a Covid jab, order a prescription, apply for a school place or transfer money in a few clicks.

Sheffield trialled various forms of electronic voting in 2002, 2003 and 2007. An evaluation by the Electoral Commission after the 2007 pilot found it had been successful, with no technical or security issues identified.

One flaw was the pilot scheme being approved much too close to the election date for “the scheme to be delivered to the high standards required to develop voter confidence in the use of remote voting technology”.

But that was 14 years ago and technology and online security has advanced significantly since then. We can keep polling stations and postal votes but creating a voting app could revolutionise elections.

Last week 15,000 postal votes were delayed and two polling stations had to be moved due to lack of disabled access. It’s time to modernise our elections.