Elections in the Digital Age 4th International Electoral Affairs Conference Professor Rachel K. Gibson (University of Manchester)
E-voting – the basic arguments The pro’s • Increasing voter turnout (convenience, lower costs, mobile access) • Increasing administrative efficiency and lowering costs of elections • Alignment of voting system with societal modernization The con’s • Increased security risks and reduced perceptions of integrity of voting process • Privacy and anonymity concerns – exposing voters to undue influence/pressure • Undermining the reflective quality of participation • Undermining the collective quality of participation
E-voting in a wider context • Voting as a form of participation is clearly important in building attachment to the political system, however, losing appeal particularly among younger people alongside conventional politics more generally. • Since 2000 when it was trialled in a binding public election – the U.S. Democratic primaries its use has been debated and become controversial. Voters’ perceptions of security are vital to the integrity of elections and acceptance of the outcome. No evidence of sustained and significant increases in voter turnout due to new mode? • There are more exciting types of online participation that have emerged, particularly since 2004 and the rise of ‘social media’ that could more effectively encourage participation in the campaign, particularly among younger citizens .
Number of individuals voted in national elections as proportion of voting-age population in selected OECD countries 1945-2005 Number of individuals voted in national elections as proportion of voting-age population in selected OECD countries 1945-2005 Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Stockholm Reported by the OECD Society at a Glance http://caliban.sourceoecd.org/vl=1676525/cl=24/nw=1/rpsv/society_glance/30.htm Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Stockholm Reported by the OECD Society at a Glance http://caliban.sourceoecd.org/vl=1676525/cl=24/nw=1/rpsv/society_glance/30.htm
Number of individuals voted in national elections as proportion of voting-age population: UK 1945-2010 Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Stockholm Reported by the OECD Society at a Glance http://caliban.sourceoecd.org/vl=1676525/cl=24/nw=1/rpsv/society_glance/30.htm
% Change in party membership size in selected European countries: 1980-2009 (van Biezen et al. 2009)
Change in party membership size in selected European countries: 1980-2009 (van Biezen et al. 2009) Biezen, Mair and Poguntke. 2009. ‘Going going ….gone: Party Membership in the 21st century’ van Biezen, I., Mair, P. and T. Poguntke. Paper presented at the ECPR Jt Sessions, Lisbon
Rise in % population participating in demonstrations in selected OECD countries(Sources: Barnes & Kaase, 1979 and World Values Surveys)
Rise in political protest for selected countries: 1980-2001 • Source: Norris, P. , Walgrave, S. and P. Van Aelst. 2006. ‘Does Protest Signify Disaffection? ‘ in Torcal & Montero (eds). Political Disaffection in Contemporary Democracies.
Engagement in the 2010 e-campaign (% internet users)(Source: BMRB Survey, N = 1,643 20.05.10-26.05.10)
1 E-participation: 4 Modes Join sns Register E-formal Tools E-donation 1 E-petition E-targeted E-contact Forward 1 Post E-expressive Embed E-discuss 1 Sites E-communication Videos News
E-expressive participation Particularly interesting in that it doesn’t fit easily into established categorisations of political participation. • Voting • Contacting • Campaigning • Communal /civic activities • Protesting /violence • Discussion/attention to news
E-expressive participation – what is it? Not as instrumental as voting, signing a petition, campaigning for a party but not simply casual political ‘talk’ A deliberate public statement of one’s political opinion or views, with the intent to influence ‘other’ - not necessarily government policy. Pre-internet = political speech or letter to the editor. Internet = posting comments on blog, forwarding political content to friends and family, tweeting or retweeting political message, embedding the logo or banner of a political organization on a site. Social media oriented. Informal activity but occurring within and supportive of, formal political environment, i.e. elections
E-expressive participation – who engages in it and why should we care about it? Closer analysis of predictors : young internet skills some political interest not partisan not high trust or efficacy not heavily involved in community activities. (Not so for e-formal/party activists.) So potential for mobilization exists..... This is where we should be focusing our attention in elections in the digital era if we want to make a difference in terms of increasing engagement. Cant simply do it by switching mode, have to first generate interest. Getting the parties, election commission, pressure groups to create dynamic viral content that people want to circulate and talk about is key.
Table 4: Regression Models predicting E-participation and Offline Participation • Standard errors in parentheses, *** p<0.001, ** p<0.01, * p<0.05 Models predicting online participation: Poisson regressions, only internet users. Models predicting offline participation: binary logistic regressions, full sample.