The other day I found out about this really cool new website called Note My Vote, which basically lets you vote on potential new laws before they’re debated in parliament, and tells your MP what you (and your fellow constituents) think.
The website, which has no political affiliation, basically conducts lots of opinion polls, and sends each MP their constituent’s results. It also shows your MP’s voting records and has some demystifying information on how the UK legislative process works.
Note My Vote exists to give citizens a louder voice on topical political issues, and to help MPs gather the views of their constituents. Generally this is done by door-knocking and holding surgeries. While these techniques are still very valuable, I think it’s fantastic that Note My Vote is updating democracy for the digital age. Perhaps this will even help to engage my generation in politics, many of whom are completely disillusioned, feeling unrepresented, apathetic and confused, and very unlikely to use traditional channels of political involvement.
Having said that, I also think it’s important that a civic tool like this is promoted to all sections of society, whatever their demographic.
Of course, MPs are under no obligation to vote in accordance with what this website says some of their constituents think. I imagine some of them won’t even look at it once. Several MPs (including my own, Caroline Lucas) have offered whole-hearted support for the new platform. I think it’s a fantastic step in the right direction – towards a more inclusive and responsive democracy.
If you live in the UK, why not sign up right now? It literally takes seconds, is free, and will give you an extra channel for voicing your concerns. At the moment there’s three bills available to vote on: the EU referendum bill, the animals in circuses bill and the MP recall bill. Each one has an option for more information, which I strongly suggest you always read. Of course, there’s no need to cast your vote in everything, unless you want to. But when something you really care about comes up, at least you have the option.
If you really feel passionate about something though, just responding to an online poll obviously won’t be enough. The point is not to reduce citizenship to ‘clicktavism’, but to provide people with as many opportunities as possible to speak out and be heard.
The more tools and platforms we have available for that, the better.