tribune. NEIL STOKES
Voting in the 21st century
I have a confession to make. No, it's not what you think. In fact, it's worse: I did not vote in the November 9 participative process. In my defence, it would be better to express it as I still haven't voted, because at the time of writing I still have five days left until ballots close on November 25. I know that sounds like classic procrastination, but I have to make a special effort to go to Barcelona to vote and so far I haven't had the chance.
At the risk of delving into a pit of excuses, the reason I didn't vote is because I was physically unable to get to the polling station for reasons far too boring to go into here. There may have been other ways to get my vote counted, such as postal voting or proxy voting, but there was so little information about fulfilling one's democratic duty that I knew of no other way than putting in a personal appearance.
Now, this situation brings up two subjects that need exploring: providing information and physically attendance, and these topics apply to all voting, not just the participative process.
I don't know about you, but my phone never stops pinging. The damn thing even has its own ways of sneaking online, opening a torrent of unsolicited information. Whether email, messages or notifications it seems certain people and organisations everywhere have little trouble in finding me, at any time of the day and night. The internet is not called the information superhighway for nothing, which makes me wonder why no one closer to home did not give me a heads-up on how to go about voting on November 9, and what to do if I missed my chance. I had to find out in a newspaper, albeit on-line.
The other thing that seems strange is that I can't just vote from my phone. Going by the principle that if you want people to vote, make it as easy as possible for them, isn't it about time we had internet voting? What's more, the issue of polling people directly online has repercussions for democracy, such as an increase in direct, rather than representative, democracy. This could mean less need for politicians, for example, and therefore – excuse my cynicism – less corruption, while encouraging voters to take more responsibility as citizens in a democracy. Clearly there are technical issues surrounding these points, but existing services, such as on-line shopping, show that they are far from being insolvable.
Obviously, this article merely raises the subject, and to speak with any real authority I would have to do a lot more research into the subject of on-line voting. The problem is that I don't have the time, I have a train to catch so that I can spend the day in Barcelona casting my vote.