Headlines: June 3rd, 2009

A big telecoms company is suggesting that greater use of technology could be the answer to poor levels of voter turnout for European and local elections. The company, ntl:Telewest Business, was commenting on predictions that turnout at this week’s polls will be poor with research from Eurobarometer indicating only 34 per cent of Europe’s 375 million voters are likely to cast their ballot

The company says research conducted on its behalf at the last UK local elections in 2007 found almost half of people thought e-voting would make them more likely to turnout. Younger electors were even more in favour with 57 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds reporting it would make them more likely to vote. More than a third of voters over 55 said the system would encourage them to take part.

ntl:Telewest Business, believes e-voting and text voting could be one answer to low turnout across Europe and it points out that at this week’s polls Estonia will allow internet voting for the first time. The system will allow a voter to change his or her mind up to the end of the polling period. The EU and political parties have invested heavily in Web 2.0 technologies, such as Twitter, blogs and Facebook to boost engagement with the electorate. The European Parliament is using Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr to remind voters of key dates and the importance of parliamentary decisions.

The company’s Commercial Director, Andrew McGrath, said: “In this digital age, technology offers the perfect solution to increase engagement and enable voters, particularly the young, to join the political conversation through social media tools. The missing link is the ability to vote electronically. Our research found that securely providing this option would boost turnout, widen choice and strengthen democracy.”