Debating the potential for online voting in New Zealand saw a room divided at the NetHui conference last week, with some calling it an essential and inevitable next step for democracy, and others concerned it was unworkable due to problems with keeping the ballot secure.
In a wide ranging discussion led by David Farrar, author of Kiwiblog and member of the Government’s working party on online voting, there was cautious support for taking a careful approach to allowing voting to move online, with the aim of eventually introducing it for local body elections.
Innovation Partnership Chair Murray Sherwin said that the Partnership hoped that the planned trial of online voting for the 2016 local body elections would be an opportunity to allow expats, young people, and people with access issues greater opportunity to take part in the democratic process.
The NetHui participants talked about the need to use online platforms not only for voting, but for increasing overall engagement with government and democracy.
The discussion at NetHui comes on the back of a recent Massey University survey showing that young people felt that being able to cast their vote online would be more of an incentive to vote than a $50 payment would be.
The survey of 18 to 24 year olds gauged their attitudes to the upcoming general election. Of the respondents who indicated they did not intend to vote, 75 per cent said they would be more likely to vote if online voting was introduced, while only 51 per cent said they would be motivated by a $50 payment.
Massey University politics lecturer Dr Damien Rogers has said of his research that the results reflected the level to which technology shaped the lives of young people, who expected to be able to engage with government and politics online.