'Democracy 2.0': Speaker calls on tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter to plan digital revolution of electoral system which could see votes cast online

  • John Bercow MP wants parliament to consider 'e-voting' by 2015
  • He has called upon internet giants to help draw up blueprint for change
  • The Speaker has been inspired by Estonia which allows internet voting

By Aaron Sharp

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Grand plans: Mr Bercow will call upon Silicon Valley giants to help form a 'blueprint' for the introduction of online voting

Grand plans: Mr Bercow will call upon Silicon Valley giants to help form a 'blueprint' for the introduction of online voting

Technology giants Facebook, Google and Twitter are to help plan a digital revolution in the British democratic system, which could see people casting their votes online.

The radical plan is the brainchild of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, who has revealed his ambition to pioneer one of the biggest shake-ups in the history of our electoral process.

In a speech to the Hansard society yesterday, Mr Bercow said he will ask leading figures from Silicon Valley technology giants such as Google and Facebook to draw up a blueprint for the implementation of digital ballots in the UK.

He will chair the first ever Speaker’s commission on 'digital democracy', which has set itself the task of modernising the voting system in a bid to boost turn-out figures and make the democratic process more inclusive.

In his speech, Mr Bercow said: 'What we are talking about here is nothing less than a Parliament version 2.0.'

Revealing plans to heighten levels of scrutiny and accountability using technology, Mr Bercow also said a new system should include 'e-dialogue' between MPs and their constituents.

He even hinted that a digital revolution could loosen current election timetables, seeing ballots  become more frequent.

According to the Speaker's office, the commission will 'embrace the opportunities afforded by the digital world to become more effective in representing the people, making laws and scrutinising the work and performance of government.

 

'It should also consider how Parliament can become more relevant to the increasingly diverse population it seeks to serve'.

Work will start at the beginning of next year with the aim of outlining an action plan for the implementation of the proposals by 2015.

That deadline falls in line with the 750th anniversary of the founding of Parliament.

Inclusive: According to Mr Bercow, one of the benefits of e-voting is that it will make casting a vote more convenient for those who may not be able to easily access a balot box

Inclusive: According to Mr Bercow, one of the benefits of e-voting is that it will make casting a vote more convenient for those who may not be able to easily access a ballot box

The Speaker plans to use the example of Estonia to champion his cause.

The Baltic state was the first in the world to introduce internet voting. It proved a popular alternative for citizens in their 2011 ballot, with around a quarter choosing to cast their votes online.

Estonians are now able to vote digitally using just their national identity card. They can also register a vote via mobile phone with a Pin code. 

The Speaker said he plans to consult global internet powers such as Facebook so that the ideas are not just those of people inside Westminster

The Speaker said he plans to consult global internet powers such as Facebook so that the ideas are not just those of people inside Westminster

Initial reaction to the idea of internet voting in Britain has been luke-warm from sources inside the three major parties.

One told the Independent: It may happen one day, but not yet. There would be big questions about security. Our system is one of the least corrupt, but there have been a few problems with postal voting and that highlights the potential danger of moving to online.'

But Mr Bercow said the idea of introducing the online community  into the very heart of British Democracy should be  'unpredictable, potentially anarchic' and 'quite fun.'

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

They know postal voting had been abused and Bercow thinks he can trust e-voting. What an idiot.

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Anything that the poison dwarf suggest need really close examination.

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Stupid, dangerous idea. Why would we trust any private company with our democracy.

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...ooooh, that would make election fraud even more easy: No need then to carry away ballot boxes to have their contents destroyed like in the Irish 2nd "referendum" on the Lisbon (Treaty) Pact.

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'unpredictable, potentially anarchic' and 'quite fun.' - says it all. This man is not interested in 'improving' the electoral process, just his self importance. Was he asked to take the actions he intends? Voting by internet holds untold possibilites for corruption. Stop him now - please. This country has more than enough problems to solve without creating more.

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I voted in online in local elections over 5 years ago, I do NOt see why this hasn't taken off nationwide

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If they cannot stop postal voting fraud how on earth can they police this, the whole idea is ludicrous. The only people that should have a postal vote are our armed forces overseas and disabled people who are unable to leave their homes. If people cannot be bothered to call in at a polling station then they don't deserve a vote.

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Security would be an issue, but more frequent elections would be a mistake. We already have parties that are always keeping one eye on the next election. Imagine an election every year? It would result in there being absolutely no long-term strategy, and would lead to the meteoric rise of "celebrity politicians" - people who get voted in because they are the flavour of the month. Being the Government has to include taking hard decisions and looking long-term. E-voting at an election, I can see as possible, but more frequent elections could only lead to short-term govts full of people "playing to the gallery".

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No. End of discussion.

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We should have internet voting for all major issues, not just general elections. Let the people vote on migration, HS2, even MPs wages. We could end up with a true democracy where the will of the people is paramount and MPs are no longer required.

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