One of the pairs of themes running through my Targeting Plus pamphlet about the Liberal Democrats is the intertwined argument that:
- the Lib Dems need to take data seriously, which means working in ways to collect, correct and expand data into all the party’s activities, and
- shared platforms which are usable from national HQ through to local ward are best as that way the investment in time and money to keep them running maximises the knock-on benefit for everyone else in the party too
That’s why the innovative approach being used for the one-member one-vote elections for the party’s federal committees and associated bodies is so good. (Side-note: I’m standing. Votes, however innovative or traditional, most welcome.)
The online system developed by party HQ takes members through checking and updating the party’s information about them (if they wish) as part of the voting process.
That is smart – because it means all the efforts going into getting members to look at the voting information also is driving people towards checking and updating their data.
It’s necessary – because member data is hugely valuable, frequently changing and not perfect.
It’s also a good nod to the future – because if the technology works well, it should be reusable for other party contests in the future. Roll round, for example, one-member one-vote elections for English regional parties and not only do you get another round of data cleaning, but for those regional parties the elections are cheaper and easier to administer. Everyone gains, including members who end up better communicated with thanks to better data.
Having one shared system also helps address one of the major drawbacks with online voting. In public elections such systems get used so relatively rarely that the setup and configuration effort each time introduces significant risks of getting something wrong. Getting a system up and running to a high quality for a continuous service is much less risky than setting up, closing down and mothballing for long periods a system. There is an initial learning curve in both cases, but continual learning and reminding of what needs doing works better than use, forget and try again.
Nice move, HQ team.