So another Ontario provincial election is in the books and Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government has emerged the victor. The big story coming out of the election besides the collapse of Tim Hudak’s campaign is the record low voter turnout.
I think the reason for this is a combination of voter apathy and a decrease in the willingness to take time to find and travel to voting polls in order to put a little check mark on a piece of paper.
The second issue is the easiest of the two to solve. Implement online voting. People against it start ranting about concerns over fraud and security yet every day millions of people give out financial information to shop and bank online. The government even offers various services through their website that require personal information.
I don’t believe it is a huge stretch enable voting online. I can already go to a government website to put in my information to find my nearest polling station. With a few more steps, it could be extended out to create a website that allows citizens to vote. I have no doubt in my mind that voter turn out would skyrocket. If the move to the mobile web is any indication, putting something at a user’s fingertips will encourage them to use it.
A website like that may also help with voter apathy. I think part of that problem lies in the fact that people are uneducated about issues and what’s at stake. They feel disconnected from politics. For many, the political process only pops into their head every four years when the media plasters election campaigns all over. If the user goes to the voting website and is provided with information on election issues and party platforms, they may feel more informed and inclined to vote because they are aware of what they are voting on.
Now I’m not advocating the removal of traditional polling stations. They have their place. But if you want to encourage more people to vote in this digital age, you need to embrace the technology and give them the choice on how they want to vote. I believe that technology is at a level where this can happen and given this year’s low voter turnout it may be time to seriously consider the jump.