Research suggests internet option for voting could increase turnout in elections
More than four in 10 adults not planning to vote in tomorrow’s general election would be more likely to do so if online voting was available, new research for broadband advice site Cable.co.uk has revealed.
It found that 42% of non-voters would be more likely to vote via the internet, with the figure being 50% for those who were still deciding whether or not to visit the polling station.
Approaching half (47%) of the all 1,746 UK adults who took part in the research, regardless of their intentions for voting in-person in this election, said being able to vote online would increase the likelihood of them doing so.
Almost a quarter (24%) of those who were certain they would not vote this time said that, if they had to vote it would be for Labour. 16% would vote for the Conservatives, 14% for UKIP, 6% for the Liberal Democrats and 6% for the Green Party.
Perhaps surprisingly, the introduction of online voting would make the least impact on 18-24 year-olds, with only 31% of all respondents in this age group saying it would make them more likely to vote. Those aged 35-44 were the most inclined to vote online, with a figure of 64%.
On a regional basis, Londoners were the most enthusiastic about online voting, with 68% saying they would be more likely to vote via the internet.
Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said: “It seems that if voting were made easier, more of us would do it. Makes sense, but it’s nevertheless somewhat shocking that so many with no plans to vote would do so if it saved them a short trip to the nearest polling station.
“Online voting is almost certainly the future. The key question is whether such a system can be adopted in a way that is beyond the potential interference from hackers.”
His comments reflect an ongoing debate about the security implications of enabling people to vote online. Cable.co.uk quoted Professor Tim Watson, director of the University of Warwick’s WMG Cyber Security Centre, as saying the risk to individual voters would be minimal, but that hackers could target individual devices as they are the “soft end of the chain”.
“If there are a significant number of people voting from one location like a library or community centre, that could be a tempting target especially in a marginal seat,” he said. “If a hacker finds a way into the system they could sit between the voter and the internet service provider and potentially change those votes.”
But “the Government would be monitoring things all the time and could refer to historical trends and patterns of voting – and can monitor the effects of malware”.
The survey was carried out by Atomik Research between 4-6 June. Of the 1,746 adults responding, 245 said they were not intending to vote and 56 were unsure.
Image from League of Women Voters of California, CC BY 2.0 through flickr