Online voting

As the UK prepares to go to the polls later this week, there has been a lot of discussion regarding online voting.

A team of researchers at the University of Birmingham are developing a secure system that could be ready to use by 2020 or 2025. The system would work in a similar way to online banking – with individuals using a handheld device in conjunction with their computer. In much the same way as you log in for online banking, a code would be sent to the credit card sized machine that is then typed back into the computer.

The system is called Du-Vote and it is claimed to be even more secure than the technique used by banks as it can detect both electoral fraud and if criminals have attacked the device.

On Thursday more than 50,000 polling stations will be set up across the UK – and things have hardly changed since the 1872 Ballot Act came into force. The traditional wooden ballot boxes and small booths with pencils on strings are a familiar sight to those that do turn out to vote. It is thought that “e-voting” from home would encourage a higher turnout, particularly amongst the tech-savvy younger voters. In some countries, Estonia for example, an online system has been in place since 2005 – and has seen a gradual increase in use since then. It seems that the elderly, the disabled and those living more than 30 minutes from a polling station have taken the online option.

It seems there is no clear answer from the British government on the implementation of online voting – with all political parties citing things like exposure to hacking and costs involved as reasons why it will not happen. Until it does, the voting system seems to be stuck in the Dark Ages.

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