With the General Election coming up in just a couple of months, I wanted to bring forward an interesting statistic: In the 2010 General Election, the percentage of people under 25 who didn’t vote was as high as 48.8%. Almost 50% of the young population, the future of the country, didn’t think it was important enough to vote for how the country is being run. (This makes a total of 4 million people) To put this into perspective, the number of those people who didn’t vote was double the difference in votes between the Conservative and the Labour party. And it’s not just the young people that are affected, only 65% of UK residents voted, leaving 21.96 million undecided votes.
But I think this leads to a greater point than just poor turnout, it lies in the fact that the way we all vote is woefully outdated. On a slight tangent, in 2009, the company known as Kickstarter was founded in the US. To date, it is estimated that over $1.5 billion in pledges have been brought forward to fund over 200,000 creative projects, something that I’m sure you will agree is an astonishing figure. What makes this more interesting is $1.5 billion has been donated directly out of peoples’ pockets, or by a person thinking it was worth investing in something that they wanted to see a reality.
Now this got me thinking, why does a crowdfunding project have to involve money? Take the Kickstarter model, apply it to a non-monetary purpose and innovate it to suit a different need. At the end of the day, every person that donates on Kickstarter is essentially ‘voting’ that they want that particular product or idea to become a reality.
This is where Open Innovation Software could be the game-changer. In the Information Age, where nearly 80% of all households in the UK are connected to the Internet, where all of our culture and customs are being moving onto an interconnected network, why do still rely on going to a polling station in town to cross a box on a piece of paper?
Take a hypothetical situation for example: use government funded Open Innovation Software to create a collective area, free from political bias, where political parties can take their inspiration from the ideas created by the people who will be voting. Of course, there will be legislation and laws put forward by the party themselves, but as suggestions.
After all, surely the concept of a democracy is that everyone gets their say in how the country is run. So why limit this voting yes or no, voting for Labour or Conservative. The most recent election showed the least amount of votes for the majority in history. This shows people are wanting to be specific with their choices, they are more informed than any generation has ever been.
Put yourself two months into the future, where you are deciding what your decision is for which party will sit as the majority in parliament for the next five years. Imagine if prior to this, you could discuss with others on the web over what direction you want your government to take. Surely I would have more confidence in a change I wanted to make, if I knew I had a thousand people behind my idea, who could contribute to streamline my concept.
But, also take the perspective of the party leader themselves. If they had the cold hard facts of what the people wanted in front of them, wouldn’t that make their jobs easier? They could maximise on improving local areas, and give local councils more control over their own areas. After all, the council’s decisions are decided online by the people of that community. And at the end of the day, how could it hurt? The 2014 local election turnout stood at 34%. Get people interested by showing them the information; don’t hide it away, give people the facts and figures, and let the power of the crowd bring us forward.
Surely it’s time to bring an incredibly important system into the modern age.