British parliamentary voting

Here is an extract of  letter I wrote to the Independant newspaper recently. The letter can be found here

Isn’t it about time there was some mechanism for voting electronically at all levels, especially in the House of Commons? The recent vilification of Vince Cable and Tim Farron for not “turning up” to vote in parliament on Tuesday, and the fact Tory MP Brandon Lewis “forgot” he had been “paired” with Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson – who is on maternity leave – and voted when he should not have done to give the government an extra vote, shows the system is flawed and there is no honour among MPs.

The only way to rectify the system is to provide an online voting app – perhaps something like the app which allows payment of bills at the touch of a digital signature. After all, if I can perform multiple complicated transactions through my bank by logging in, then how easy would it be to write similar, secure software to give MPs a simple “yes/no” voting option? This would also remove the need for the unreliable and outdated “pairing system” – which cancels out opposing votes – and would allow MPs to be absent from the House but still vote on important matters.

It is interesting 14 Labour MPs were absent on Tuesday but their non-appearance has not been publicly called into question. If they had been present, or able to vote electronically, the government would have probably been defeated.

In today’s digital world I wonder why we continue to support old fashioned systems such as voting and debating in person? There really is no reason why debates could not be conducted via teleconference, which would have allowed Ms Swinson, who gave birth two weeks ago, to get involved. It’s time to bring parliament into the 21st century.

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