The 2018 local voting currently being held in England consist of more than 4,300 seats up for grabs.
There are Council elections in all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 67 district and borough councils and 17 unitary authorities. Likewise, polls are open for the Mayoralties of Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Watford. There are no local elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, a parliamentary by-election for the Westminster seat of West Tyrone is taking place.
In the nearly 850 key wards whose results have been already declared, turnout stands at 36%, the same as in these wards four years ago.
Depending on where the citizen votes all the seats of the council will be up for election or just a fraction of them. The electoral rules establish different terms for this kind of event:e all the local councillors every four years, elect half the local councillors every two years, and elect one-third of the local councillors every year for three years and hold no elections in the 4th year.
The election system is still relying on expensive, manual, prone to manipulation, tedious and slow tools to manage to vote. Instead of taking the best advantages of digital information networks and platforms, before the election, voters receive a poll card in the mail which direct them to the nearest polling station (usually churches, community centres and schools).
Voting by mail is even now a popular method, albeit voters need first to contact the local authorities requesting a form, and then they receive a ballot in the mail. Nor is this method costly (time and resources) and outdated, but it is also quite unreliable compared to newer online voting options.
Voting by proxy, another used method in British elections by which citizens can appoint someone else to vote for them, could also be avoided (so each voter can fully use their personal and private right to vote) with better digital democracy options in the UK election system.
On the other side, and despite the latest global debates on digital data breaches, social media influence in elections, and cybersecurity threats, digital democracy platforms and online voting proposals are gaining momentum among voters, candidates, representatives and industry experts.
The fact that Facebook (earlier this year) committed publicly with UK authorities to “make sure political ads on its platform will be vetted, transparent, labelled as such, and archived for public searches, in time for England and Northern Ireland’s 2019 local elections,” gives some food for thought.
About the results
According to the BBC, with 136 council results declared, Labour had won 1,848 seats, up 58, the Conservatives have gained 1,237, down seven, the Lib Dems have won 447, up 49, the Greens have won 34, up five and UKIP have won three, down 121.
“In addition to the council polls, there have been a series of mayoral elections in London boroughs. Labour mayors were elected in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets – while in Watford, the Lib Dem candidate was elected. The Sheffield City Region mayoral race has gone to a second count.”