The Electoral Commission Chair Jenny Watson believes the UK voting system needs 21 century technology

Call for e-voting in the UK

The UK needs to completely overhaul its voting system introducing new technologies including e-voting to help the public engage with politics, said Electoral Commission Chair Jenny Watson.

Speaking at a Constitution Unit meeting at University College London, she said taking advantage of the advancing technology would allow voters to register on the polling day or even cast electronic votes.

"The UK needs an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for bringing the way we vote into the modern age," she said, warning the way people were being asked to engage with politics and the voting system was becoming "increasingly disconnected from how they interact with each other and with other institutions, from their banking arrangements to their weekly shop".

She noted that a new system of online voter registration would be launched in June.

"I believe this should be the first step in addressing the disconnect between how our citizens are expected to engage with our electoral system compared to how they engage with everything else in their lives."

Watson said the Commission would be looking at further possibilities and making recommendations to the Government. During the speech, she admitted protecting an electronic voting system against hackers and cyber-criminals would be a challenge. However, she said, the modernisation of the system could help address issues with low voter turnout, particularly among young people.

Several countries around the world have already implemented electronic voting systems with Estonia being among the most progressive. In 2005, Estonia held the world’s first general elections over the Internet followed by the world’s first online parliamentary elections.

In both cases, voters could cast their votes remotely from the comfort of their home while proving their identities using an electronic national ID card.

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