But Twitter and Facebook may not have the impact many predict
Support for e-voting has doubled in the run up to this year’s general election but tools such as Facebook and Twitter are not yet on the electoral radar, a new study has revealed.
The poll, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Virgin Media Business, found that around two in five (43%) British internet users said e-voting would encourage them to vote at next week’s general election. This compares to just 19% of voters who said the same in the run up to the last election, held in 2005.
With recent events such as the expenses scandal and the banking crisis rocking the public’s confidence in MPs, many analysts are predicting a record low turn out on election, with 2001’s record of just 59% set to be beaten.
“All the signs are that voter engagement with MPs and the electoral process is suffering,” said Lee Hull, director of public sector at Virgin Media Business. “Technology looks like it could be critical in helping to ignite more interest from the public. The absence of an e-voting system is ironic when you think how many people will schedule a visit to the polling station in their digital calendars, and check their emails, texts and Facebook while they’re queuing to vote.”
Respondents also indicated that they would be more willing to vote for candidates who use technology to engage with the public and that they wanted more communication from their MP through more channels.
Email was the most popular communication choice, with 47% voting for it. This figure was up from 7% in 2005. Surprisingly social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter were not high on the list of contact channels, scoring just 11% and 3% respectively.
“The 2010 E-Politics Study shows that voters are crying out for more direct, personal communication from their MPs at a time when numbers at the polling booths continue to fall. MPs need to combine traditional campaigning methods with web presence, mobile applications and social media in order to be sure of effectively communicating with all citizens,” said Hull.