The advances in technology have led to significant changes on a global level from the way in which we can travel the globe to the manner in which we now consume products.These technological advances have also influenced the political realm, allowing more people to actively participate in our various political systems than ever before. If it is true, that technology has amplified politics and given a voice to many who would otherwise go unheard, then now more than ever; it is crucial to understand how technology can hinder or help the political system and those who form part of it.
Increased importance of political figures
In our media crazed world, there is very little that is able to remain private, and with the move from the private to the public, every politician’s every move has become open to the utmost scrutiny in televised debates, political engagements, and anytime they make a public appearance. As a result, when political figures attempt to win public approval, the image they present is just as important as their policies and political convictions. With cameras recording almost every step they take and each comment they make, political leaders have to be more careful than ever to ensure that they do not say anything that could hinder their political future, as well as the image of their party. Now, more than ever, we are seeing an intense focus to the image of the leader or candidate of a particular party rather than the party itself. Televised debates are now crucial in seeing who the future political leader will be. If a politician consistently does well in political debates, this is a sign that they will likely do well in their election. It is almost impossible for any leader to hide any discrepancies of their past from the public, as there are so many ways to investigate any record of this. Should someone make the mistake of saying something out of place, or even whispering something considered controversial, this can be political suicide and ruin any chances of political advancement. These political errors will likely end up on every major news channel and viewed worldwide on the multitude of platforms that allow us to stream, repeat and even edit such clips at any given moment.
In a democratic system, voting is the most important of ensuring the fair and equal election of a political representative or a particular policy. Fair voting systems should enable everyone to take part, and electronic voting has enabled many people who would not have been able to take part, to do so. Electronic voting technology, provided by companies such as smartmatic, abolishes the margin of human error that the standard ‘paper and pencil voting system carries with it, and crucially increases the legitimacy of the final result. People who are unable to leave their home, for example, may benefit from this voting system. Certain voting systems which still require voter participation in person will still benefit from electronic voting technology as this will decrease the likelihood of human error and increase the accountability of the process. Voting turnout interestingly has not increased significantly as a result of technological advances, and this could be to do with the fact that the electorate will vote on issues that are important to them regardless of the way in which political system they have to utilize to do so. What has radically changed, however, is the reduction in time spent sorting, counting and recounting votes. This, as well as many other benefits of an electronic voting system, ensures that a voting system is fairer and faster.
Everything is faster, from the time it takes for votes to be counted, to the results of a particular election. The internet allows a candidate or politician to interact with their constituents or the general public through a variety of platforms. Social media means that these individuals can communicate with people, and react to political events in real time. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Snapchat are no longer just associated with the youth and the way in which they communicate with each other, and the social media presence of a politician is as important, if not more important, than their physical. This is not always a good thing, however, as once a tweet or Facebook post is online there is no way to undo the political damage this may cause through the screen captures and retweets that can record and spread a controversial or mistaken message in seconds.