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Time for online voting in the Internet age

Editor at large Han Fook Kwang's commentary last Sunday ("Let's just have SMCs and three-member GRCs") makes good sense and must have resonated with many of our young people who will be voting in the coming general election (GE) for the first time.

When I attended the election rallies of some political parties in the 2011 General Election, I was surprised when the speakers said that if their party came to power, they would reduce the cost of Housing Board flats and medical bills - without telling us where the money would come from.

Such chicanery underestimates voters' intelligence and undermines trust in politics and politicians.

I also noticed that on the ballot paper, the name and party of the candidates are printed and there is a space for one to mark an "X" in the box. I would suggest that if I am not satisfied with all the candidates in my constituency, I should be given the choice to mark my "X" next to the "None of the above" candidates.

There should also be a cap on political donations for all parties and it should be a criminal offence if a party did not declare its donations to the Elections Department. This will clean up politics and level the political playing field.

As our younger generation is well educated and IT-savvy, it would be a good idea to allow voting on mobile phones for those below the age of 30 to boost the turnout. To prevent abuse, voting by proxy via the mobile phone should not be allowed.

Today, many transactions in life can be carried out online. But one crucial process is still stuck in the dark ages: voting.

A report in Britain noted that online voting could reduce the cost per vote by one-third, saving taxpayers millions of dollars per GE, while reducing the number of accidentally spoilt ballots and speeding up the counting process.

In Britain, the Digital Democracy Commission recommended that online voting be made possible by 2020. Estonia is currently the only country in the world that relies on Internet voting for legally binding general elections.

It is time to bring the ballot to the voter and I hope Internet voting will be made possible in the next GE.

Heng Cho Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2015, with the headline 'Time for online voting in the Internet age'. Print Edition | Subscribe