Shadow digital minister Liam Byrne suggests digital polling system is ‘something we may look at’ in the near future
Labour’s shadow digital minister Liam Byrne has indicated that the party’s policymakers may revisit the issue of online voting next year.
Ahead of the 2015 general election, then-leader Ed Miliband promised to run a trial of online election voting if Labour won power. Two years later, Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 manifesto made no mention of any such policy but did promise that, if elected, Labour would “legislate to permit secure online and workplace balloting for industrial action votes and internal union elections”.
At an event in London last night hosted by think tank Demos, Byrne was asked about Labour’s position on the issue of digital voting. While the shadow digital minister said that the party has no formal policy as it stands, he indicated that it may re-examine the potential of online voting in the near future.
“We haven’t got a position on it yet – that is something we may look at next year,” he said.
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Other parliamentarians have advocated for the introduction of online voting in recent years. In 2013 Commons speaker John Bercow set up a Digital Democracy Commission, which subsequently published a report recommending that “secure online voting should be an option for all voters” by 2020.
Digital voting also seems to have at least one supporter in the Byrne household.
The shadow digital minister said: “When I told my brother that we were spending £7bn or £8bn on rebuilding parliament he said: ‘Do you think that is a good use of money? Why don’t you get online voting to work instead?’.”
In answer to another question, there was another tech-related policy area where Byrne was happy to lay out a firm position.
He said: “We do not have a policy to renationalise BT – sorry to disappoint you!”
Look out on PublicTechnology shortly for a full write-up of Byrne’s ambitions for building Labour’s digital policy, including the party’s new ‘People’s Plan’ for crowdsourcing ideas.