Brexit: Where was the app to encourage millennials to vote?

June 6, 2016

Late on Tuesday the 6th of June, the gov.uk website went down between the hours of 10.15 and midnight, preventing users meeting the all important deadline to register to vote in the EU referendum.

As it stands the Government are encouraging the public to continue to register to vote until 23.59 on Thursday the 9th of June, but has the damage already been done?

A key concern for David Cameron and the ‘remain campaign’ has been securing the young vote, which is believed to be favourable towards remaining within the UK. Due to the website crash on the final day of registration, there are concerns that many millennials, will not have had the chance to register to vote or will have been deterred. According to the government’s data website, 525,000 people applied to register to vote during the day of which 170,000 were between 25 to 34.

So why were the Government not turning to tech to reach out to the younger generation?

Writing from the heart of Tech City, it seems bizarre that the world of mobile passed them by. Surely the homepage of the Apple Store is the perfect place to reach millennials?

An app which allows users to complete a form with their details, would be simple and relatively inexpensive to develop in comparison to complex popular apps like Uber. Consumer facing apps have proven to increase consumer engagement and profitability. Similarly, admin tasks, once at the mercy of pen and paper, are now finding efficient solutions in mobile. For example, large utility companies are investing in internal apps for their field staff, enabling them to receive and record live data, anywhere, quickly and easily. The world of business is harnessing the power of apps to transform business efficiency and customer service - demonstrating the possibilities for the Government.

It wouldn’t be far off the mark to suggest that an app could have been a stable addition in comparison to a website. In theory, an app requires less data to be drawn from the server than a website with numerous plug-ins and this could have minimised the likelihood of a crash. Apps also provide some useful means to engage the user; most obvious being push notifications. In the case of Brexit registration, this could have included reminders to register as well as countdowns to the voting date.

It is fair to say that the addition of an app could have moved the campaign to register to vote into the 21st Century, thus encouraging more millennials register. After all, mobile has the potential to increase public engagement and improve accessibility.

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