More than two in five of British internet users say e-voting would make them more likely to back a candidate at next week’s General Election, double the support for it in 2005. The 2010 Virgin Media Business E-Politics Online Study found that the number of voters backing a digitised ballot card system had jumped from 19 to 43 per cent since the last Parliamentary election. With experts predicting that the poll could suffer from the lowest turnout in modern times, dipping below 59 per cent, bringing in e-voting could help turn the tide on voter apathy.
This interest in technology could also attract more support for candidates who use it to engage with their local community, with voters seeking more electoral communication across different channels.
“All the signs are that voter engagement with MPs and the electoral process is suffering,” said Lee Hull, director of public sector at Virgin Media Business. “Technology looks like it could be critical in helping to ignite more interest from the public. The absence of an e-voting system is ironic when you think how many people will schedule a visit to the polling station in their digital calendars, and check their emails, texts and Facebook while they’re queuing to vote.”
However, text voting was given a resounding thumbs-down, with only 26 per cent of people questioned in the study seeing it as making them more likely to vote. In fact, 15 per cent said texting would make them less likely to vote..
The 2010 E-Politics Online Study actually found that voters are seeking greater communication with their MPs. They want to be reached through an increasing number of channels, with a particular focus on email alongside traditional methods, such as post and local press. This demand for personal contact from MPs has grown dramatically since 2005. Email was the most popular choice of contact channel, selected by nearly half (47 per cent) of voters, up from 7 per cent in 2005.
However despite the rise of new technologies such as Twitter (requested by three per cent of the online public) and Facebook (11 per cent), traditional channels are still more popular than digital newcomers. More than two in five (42 per cent) of potential voters asked to be contacted by post or through local media, both up on 2005. In fact only 21 per cent felt that MPs should be more active on the internet, against 45 per cent in 2005, showing a need for politicians to adopt a balanced communication approach.
“The 2010 E-Politics Study shows that voters are crying out for more direct, personal communication from their MPs at a time when numbers at the polling booths continue to fall,” said Lee Hull. “MPs need to combine traditional campaigning methods with web presence, mobile applications and social media in order to be sure of effectively communicating with all citizens. This multi-channel approach is going to be the most successful way of getting their message out to the public and winning votes.”
The 2010 survey was conducted by YouGov Plc and used a sub-set of questions from the 2005 study. The total sample size was 2,170 adults, questioned online between 1 and 6 April, 2010. The figures have been weighted and are representative of UK adults of voting age.
 The same questions were asked over the telephone just before the last Parliamentary election in 2005
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About Virgin Media Business
Virgin Media Business is the UK’s only telco with a nationwide fibre optic Next Generation Network. Launched in February 2010, the company aims to bring the Virgin philosophy to the business telecoms market. Providing innovative, high quality solutions built on brilliant customer service.
Virgin Media Business is the largest business-to-business brand in the Virgin group. With a strong product portfolio that includes its market leading Ethernet services. It uses its network asset in order to create bespoke tailored telecoms solutions for its customers. Employees are located at 40 offices across the UK, allowing Virgin Media Business to be closer to its customers in every sense.
Previously known as ntl:Telewest Business, organisations working with Virgin Media Business include London City Airport, Arqiva, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership and South West Water.
About Virgin Media
With almost 10 million customers, Virgin Media is the UK's first quad-play provider of broadband, TV, phone and mobile.
The company is one of the largest residential broadband providers in the UK, using a unique fibre optic cable network to deliver next generation ultrafast internet access of up to 50Mb to just over half of all homes. Combined with a high speed ADSL service and mobile broadband products, Virgin Media is able to offer broadband internet access to virtually the entire country.
Virgin Media has the UK’s most advanced TV on demand service and is the only TV platform to carry BBC iPlayer. It is the second largest provider of pay TV, was the first to launch a high definition TV service and offers a high-specification, HD-ready V+ personal video recorder.
The company operates the most popular virtual mobile network in the UK which, when launched, was the world’s first such mobile phone service. It is also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the country.
Virgin Media also owns Virgin Media Television (VMtv) which runs seven entertainment channels, including Virgin1, LIVING, Bravo and Challenge. VMtv is a 50 per cent joint partner with BBC Worldwide in UKTV, which consists of ten channels including Dave, G.O.L.D., Watch and Alibi.
With operations based entirely in the UK, Virgin Media Inc. is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (VMED) and the London Stock Exchange (VMED).
For more information, go to http://www.virginmedia.com/