Liechtenstein will vote in February 2021. Political parties and candidates face the challenge of reaching out to citizens without live events. That’s a chance for Liechtenstein’s democracy to digitize, both in political campaigns and the voting system.
The US-elections have been the most dominant headline over the past weeks. Donald Trump accuses his political opponents of voter fraud and suggests mail-in ballots were not a proper way to conduct presidential elections. Much can be debated about that, but another question we may want to ask: Why do we still use mail-in ballots in the 21s century, is there not better system, a digital system?
Liechtenstein votes for parliament on 7th February 2021. Covid will still be an issue by then, and the country will have to find a way to run the elections without disruption and without people putting their health at risk.
In the run-up to the elections, candidates increasingly use digital tools to spread their message. While in previous years, there were live events and conferences where candidates could get in touch with their electorate and present their views, this will be significantly more challenging this year. Political parties and their candidates will have to explore new channels to reach out to people.
Both the FBP and the VU have agreed not to hold any physical party gatherings. The FBP will completely cancel their party meeting, and the VU will organize a video event. “It won’t be a live event, and nobody will be physically present, but the individual contributions will be recorded,” explains VU president Günther Fritz. The candidates for parliament will present themselves in short video-portraits to the voters via Livestream on www.vu-online.li.
The Freie Liste (FL) will nominate their candidates in a physical event and only invite the candidates and media representatives. “It’s not that easy these days to introduce our candidates to a broad audience,” says Thomas Rehak from FL.
Democracy depends on the interaction between politicians and citizens. Without such interaction, it will be challenging to convince people of new ideas and concepts. Thus, it will be paramount for this year’s candidates, especially for first-timers who are not that well known, to use digital channels like social media or video platforms to reach out to the people. Those who have some basic digital skills will, without a doubt, have an advantage this year.
Digital voting on a blockchain system
The question that remains is the security and efficiency of a mail-in system. It takes ages to count such votes; the US election is still not completed up until today. Now, Liechtenstein is not the US and has a much smaller population, so developing a digital system only for an election might be over the top. However, Liechtenstein could do so to foster its position as a digital frontrunner within Europe.
And a digital voting system would neither be particularly complex nor expensive to implement. Blockchain technology could be used as the underlying infrastructure; other countries, for example Thailand, have already started to explore the possibilities of a blockchain-based voting system.