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Designing the Vote: An Exploration of Electronic Voting as a tool for Political Participation [PhD Thesis]

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Vasilis Vlachokyriakos


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This thesis describes my attempt to envisage electronic voting as a tool for political en- gagement by challenging the conventional understanding of the role of technology in democracy as only facilitating ‘politics’ referring to the means, structures and mecha- nisms that enable governing. This entails the reappropriation of voting as a tool that embeds methods for dissent to be democratically manifested, and the discovery of novel ways with which voting systems can be designed to encourage citizen involvement in political processes; from setting up polls and political canvassing to voting and political deliberation.I materialize this novel conceptualization of voting by introducing a design framework that enables us to rethink the capacities of systems to support various democratic contexts. We instantiate this framework for the design and development of novel voting prototypes that we later deploy in collaboration with local communities in Newcastle upon Tyne and Cambridge in order to gain an understanding of how their affordances and contextual parameters influence political participation.As a result, in this thesis we present a number of case studies incorporating new designs, empirical methods and findings that begin to explore this conceptualisation of voting as a tool for political engagement. More specifically, we explore: (i) the reappropriation of voting as not only supporting the doing of politics, but also the participation of the in- volved stakeholders in a political process; (ii) the capacities of voting systems that enable this profound citizen participation to be materialised in local contexts and the possible change that might result from this; and (iii) the contextual parameters affecting citizen engagement in voting such as the system’s ownership and the authority to drive political agendas. In doing so, we offer new insights into the potential of voting to support political engagement and participation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vlachokyriakos V

Publication type: Authored Book

Publication status: Published

Year: 2016

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Publisher: Newcastle University

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne