Would you vote for an internet election?


When Britain goes to the polls next month, millions will dutifully head to the nearest voting station to place their cross in the box that best represents how they want the country to be governed.

Others will have taken advantage of the opportunity to vote by post – something that was made possible after the Representation of the People Act 1948 became law.

Whatever the final outcome, one thing’s for certain, the next few weeks will be filled with print, online and broadcast reports detailing what each political party intends to accomplish if it ultimately gains power.

During this time, thousands of tonnes of paper letters and leaflets outlining political intentions will be distributed nationally at financial and environmental cost.

Postal vote count

Simultaneously, politicians will make thousands of phone calls to canvass support while also taking to the streets and knocking on countless doors to garner even more votes.

And these facts have to beg the following question: Isn’t there a better way to do things in this digital age?

Shouldn’t it be possible to engage with people of all ages – and particularly the younger generation, often referred to as generation X – online?

And the natural extension of this debate is to decide whether it should now be possible to vote online without the fear of fraud skewing the ultimate results?

Craig Johnson is director of Manchester-headquartered digital marketing agency Kagool. He’s in no doubt that British politics is about to enter a brave new era.

A spoiled ballot paper

Johnson places what’s happening in context: “Historically, party campaigns have favoured an ageing population.

“Door to door canvassing and traditional media still play a major role in gaining public support but these techniques do not favour the younger voter, and therefore will not be sustainable for much longer.

“If political parties want to see a younger generation taking to the polls and also voting in their favour, they should begin thinking now about how to most effectively use digital marketing and personalisation to ensure they capture their younger audience.

“We at Kagool believe that the political party to get it right will win the election in 2020 and if they act fast, could in fact win June’s election, making 2017 our last ever offline election.”

Craig Johnson

Johnson adds that Brexit was a prime example of why there’s now a need for elections to be conducted “online”.

He added: “The traditional methods of canvassing did not capture the eye, or imagination, of generation X and potentially more importantly, did not inform them of the outcomes of not voting altogether.

“There is huge potential to use targeted digital marketing to influence an as yet, relatively untouched demographic, and the first party willing to do so will see its campaigns acclaimed as relevant to the 21st century.

“Political parties have attempted to incorporate social media strategy into their campaigns. However, tweeting, snapchatting and posting on Instagram is useless unless it is done with authenticity and as part of an integrated digital campaign.

“Using Facebook Live to relay party broadcasts to the masses, Instagram to pique the interest of the 18-24 demographic and tailored digital ads to ensure users make a correlation between lifestyle choices and the chosen party, will ultimately result in a higher turnout of the under-30 voter, which could turn predicted outcomes on their head.

“If done correctly, we believe 2017 could be the last general election where digital isn’t front of mind; in another five years’ time the entire election process will be digitalised with the public even casting votes online rather than in polling stations.

“Now is the time for political parties to start defining user objectives, tracking journeys and using personalisation to grab attention, converting the user into a supporter, and ultimately, a voter.”

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