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E-voting consultation begins

Government hopes electronic ballot boxes will stem voter apathy

The office of the e-Envoy yesterday confirmed its commitment to tackling the problem of growing public indifference to the ballot box with the launch of its consultation paper on e-voting.

E-voting was tested across the UK in the last local elections with varied success, but electoral turnout was still only 59 percent — it's lowest for over 50 years.

"We want to tackle voter apathy in any way we can and we hope by making the polls more convenient and accessible through a variety of methods we will at least be starting to tackle this," said Douglas Alexander (pictured), cabinet member at the office of the e-Envoy, at yesterday's launch.

Many groups and public bodies have come forward to welcome the consultation paper.

"Technology alone will not solve the crisis of economic disengagement. However, if pathfinders are structured properly then the new technology can enhance citizens' ability to influence the decisions that affect them, inspiring new confidence in the political process," said Jamie Bend, researcher in digital society at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The government's six-month consultation period will focus on such areas as security and trust, both of which need to be resolved before e-voting becomes a viable alternative to paper or postal ballots.

"We need to address this issue and gain trust in the system if it is going to work," said Alexander.

Whether digitising the election process will resolve the problem of dwindling voter turnouts remains to be seen. Perhaps the government should focus its attention on the public's distrust of political decision makers and their lack of accountability first.


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