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Voter turnout for the elections to the Bremen state parliament last Sunday was the lowest ever experienced in a West German Federal State and has rekindled the debate over how to reduce voter apathy in future. Studies, surveys and experience domestic and abroad tell us that online voting can help to reverse the negative trend.

And the winners of the Bremen election are: …the non-voters

With participation in the election at an all-time low of 49.6 percent, Bremen’s non-voters have achieved an absolute majority. Proposals abound at the moment on how to raise voting levels among the electorate. They range from investing in the improved communication of political issues to raising the profile of political parties and making voting compulsory.

Another approach is to make it easier for citizens to cast their vote. Suggestions here include longer opening hours for polling stations, not limiting voting to a single day, providing polling booths in supermarkets and allowing people to vote online. Studies reveal that the introduction of online voting in particular could raise turnout by more than 25 percent.

Dismantle barriers by introducing online voting

Analyses of many elections demonstrate clearly that young people especially are no longer making the trip to the polling station. Even in the German general election of 2013 the turnout of the younger generation was the lowest ever. These ‘digital natives’ are used to relying on online solutions in almost every area of life. Studies, surveys and experience domestic and abroad show quite clearly that the introduction of online voting could bring about a huge increase in the turnout of young people. We have summarised the most significant findings in our white paper entitled “The benefits of online voting”.

Furthermore, the existing system of voting in person makes it difficult or even impossible for large sections of the population, regardless of their age, to cast their vote. These groups include disabled or sick voters and those who are absent from their constituency, e.g. citizens living abroad. A system of online voting would be more inclusive for these groups in particular.

 

Photo credit: Holger Lang  / pixelio.de