Considering we manage the majority of our life online, including banking, shopping and even relationships, it is a confusing aspect to think that our voting system remains distinctly analogue.
The simple act of casting a vote requires citizens to make their way to a polling booth, queue up, and tick a box on a voting slip. These votes are then collected and counted frantically overnight by thousands of people around the country. Doesn’t sound very 2017 does it?
Voting online would not only make the whole system a lot easier, it would also increase the speed, decrease the cost and improve the turnout. With nearly half of the voting population under the age of 50 saying they would be more likely to participate if they could cast their ballot electronically, this could make a major impact on the results.
However experts have raised several problems with the idea of online voting, including hacking, fraud and privacy.
The most clear threat to using an online system is the prospect of a cyber attack, allowing hackers to get into the voting system and manipulate the result. The threat of attacks is growing, but it might not even have to be successful to undermine online voting, the suggestion alone could damage trust in the result of an online election.
Electoral fraud is not unheard of within the analogue world, with people simply giving a name and address and only sometimes required to show some form of ID, but these problems could multiply through the use of an online voting system where there may be even fewer checks.
Finally, voting on paper almost guarantees privacy as there is no record of who completed each slip, which might not be the case online. In theory, every vote would have a digital trail linking it back to the voter themselves, despite any techniques applied in order to anonymise it.