People Using the Internet to Help Citizens Decide on Electronic Democracy
Computers and digital technology are all around us. We are living what we call a “digital revolution”. That is the process by which documents, music, information, videos and photos are converted into bits and bytes; in digital form. However, I can sense it in almost every action I make; and you will probably too. Already, each of us may at any time have instant access to global knowledge through a mobile phone. Perhaps a tablet that fits in the palm of his hand. All global knowledge centers are linked into a single global network; which is of course the internet. That is evolving and leading us to a spectacular new era.
There’s a whole generation of people growing up online. It communicates, cooperates and has fun with almost zero cost. Companies use the internet completely changing the way they operate; exploiting global connectivity, differences in time zones, etc. The internet is no longer a luxury but more of a public good; such as national defense, ports, airports.
New Technology and news in the internet in politics
The internet provides benefits for the whole society. However, the consolidation of the internet as a public good has not yet taken place. But perhaps it will be done in the coming years. Further, although the Internet has caused a revolution in our personal lives; and the way commerce, private and public services work. It has not been introduced yet in any political system. While we are living our “digital revolution”; we continue to vote and deal with political processes in an old way. That has not been modernized; and that uses new technology very little.
Nonetheless, I believe the time has come to reassess outdated political processes. Nowadays, I think no one is happy with the quality of our democracy. That it is imperative to reinvent the status of “active citizenship” through the Internet.
In Greece, everybody is now obliged to make their annual tax statement online. As well as declare and pay for various tax and government related issues. Although many people still have trouble using such service. Especially the older ones. There doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Generally, there are not serious complaints. The system is already working and I, will certainly become more efficient in the following years; since the new generations will be much more familiar with it.
Why not use e-democracy?
My question therefore is; why not use e-democracy as e-government and various other similar processes that are already used successfully? First of all we could adopt and develop some kind of an electronic system for national elections; like the ones they use in the USA, for example. I think we could move one step forward; and even vote from home.
I know there are a lot of people who are concerned about the integrity of such a system; but it’s 100% possible. The cost is minimal compared to the millions that are spent during elections. Unfortunately, in the last years there have been elections every 1-2 years in Greece. This is because of the economic crisis and costs are great.
If what I’m suggesting is too much
Although, I think that it can be done for sure. We could start with something less important. Maybe on a local level. The mayor could ask for example the opinion of the residents of the city. Along with asking them to vote for some matters that concern the city. With that said, I think that everybody would be astonished by the participation. Even if voting is not binding for the mayor; it would give a good idea of what people believe and request about the city. Every citizen could use their computer. Or even their mobile phone to comment, photograph, and inform the city council of any matter. Eventually even vote as well.
Later on, when such a system is tested; it could be expanded to a national level. It will allow more people to participate about more serious matters. I can understand that electronic democracy is hard to replace traditional democracy and parliaments. I’m not even sure if it would be right to do so. This is because citizens usually do not have the time; as well as knowledge; to form an opinion about every single law and decision. There’s so much detail into that. That will make this whole thing to reach a dead-end. But of course People could start by voting on less trivial issues more often; and see where this can really lead eventually. I would certainly be happy to participate. Also, I know a lot of other people would will too.