Here at PublicVoice, we recognize the power that the big wide online world can have on increasing engagement with our communities. We are proud to be the leaders at helping councils and government agencies engage with their communities online.
When we heard about the governments long awaited report into the possible use of online voting from 2016, our mascot Joe Public was caught doing star jumps on our work trampoline in excitement about being able to exercise his right to vote from his own couch (Yes, we have a trampoline and it is the scene of many productive work place meetings).
In September 2013, a working group of experts was commissioned to look at whether online voting is feasible and needed in New Zealand. The results have us excited that at long last we maybe able to save more innocent trees from being cut down and turned into papers that will only ever be used once. The working group came up with seven key findings that will help us towards getting people to vote online in New Zealand.
These results are:
- Online voting is feasible…….But should be used alongside already existing options of voting including postal voting to ensure everyone can participate and exercise their right to vote.
- Full implementation in 2016 is unable to be achieved – The working group recommended that online voting be spread out over time to allow for communities to manage the risks of such a system and to learn more about how it works over time.
- Online voting in the 2016 Local Government elections be on a trial only basis – It has been recommend that only trials be conducted during these elections to iron out any potential problems and assess the outcomes of this voting method.
- Online voting is good and makes things better for everyone – According to the working group, online voting will be of help to those who are outside of main mail coverage areas or who find it harder to vote via mail.
- Public trust in our electoral system must be maintained at all times – Before online voting can begin, systems need to be developed to a level that is able to maintain the highest levels of trust in our electoral system.
- Implementing online voting needs to be done in partnership with other organisations – The working group recommended that government work alongside the Department of Internal Affairs, Local Government New Zealand, The Electoral Commission and other partners to develop the best system possible so that as many people as possible can take advantage of this voting method.
- Online voting must have a high level of security – In order for online voting to be most effective, the working group recognised that any system used for online voting will need to be fully secure before use and tested.
Online voting is exciting and is on the right path towards allowing more of our communities to engage with their elected officials online. Recently, PublicVoice published research into how Local Government is using online tools to be able to engage with their local communities and we found that over 37% of councils have a strategy in place for the introduction and management of e-democracy activities such as online voting in the future.
We believe that if you can communicate with Local Government online, make a submission online to them and be able to tell them on social media what you really think of them. Then, you should be able to elect them online as well.
For a copy of the report into the working groups recommendations for the use of online voting in New Zealand. Please click here.