A better way to vote?

Could design come to the aid of democracy?

As a member of the design and tech community, last Friday was a dark day indeed. As someone whose career has always been within the creative industries, I worry that the tear away from Europe will have devastating effects on arts and culture. The UK seems to have little regard for the creative industries despite the fact that last year they contributed £71.7bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy, and export over £10bn to Europe (I guess that won’t be happening any more).

In the first few days after Brexit, we’ve seen promises backtracked on immigration and NHS pledges, the demise of the UK economy with figures worse than 2008, blatant and completely unacceptable racism and the rise of #Bregret.

Now, all of these things are upsetting, but it’s ‘Bregret’ that depresses/angers me the most. Some people believed the lies of the Brexit campaign saying they felt “conned” and “robbed of their votes”. One guy “didn’t think (his) vote was going to matter too much because (he) thought we were just going to remain.” And then I found a comment from ‘JE’ on the Daily Mail (urgh) comments saying “People dont (sic) HAVE to know why they voted: they still have a right to vote.” Really!?!

Whichever side they’re supporting, people must know WHY they are voting. Democracy isn’t about making a 50/50 choice without understanding the facts. If you don’t know why you are voting, why should your vote carry the weight as those who are well informed and have reasons behind their vote?

There’s nothing I can do to change the results of this referendum, but as I designer, I can share my idea of a better voting system. It’s 2016, I think we’re ready for electronic voting (which would avoid the whole pencil conspiracy). There seems to be a very real sense that some people didn’t actually know what they were voting for. I think it’s acceptable to ask people to demonstrate they understand what their vote is for. After all you can’t take a driving test without knowing the theory so why can you make a decision that has thrown Europe into turmoil without having some comprehension of what the issue is? Here’s my idea:

If the answer given is anything other than the description of the vote (which is on the polling cards!) then their vote would carry less weight than if they answer correctly. (Disclaimer: I’m not a political scientist so would suggest the above as a starting point on which to test and iterate.) Now obviously there is no way of knowing whether this would have impacted the final count but it might mean that JE from London who doesn’t know why he’s voting wouldn’t be representing the population of voters who did their research and made informed, sometimes difficult, decisions on the future of our country in Europe.

Here’s a little video of my suggested voting interface: