Go to content

​Dentists: Government must stop dragging heels on digital democracy

The British Dental Association has urged government to move forward action to enable trade unions to conduct their statutory elections online.

Under current trade union law elections for a range of posts – including those to the BDA’s Principal Executive committee – must be conducted by post. Where the law does not prevent it from doing so, the professional body conducts all its elections through digital voting.

The Government commissioned Sir Ken Knight, the former Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser for England, to lead an independent review of electronic voting for unions. Recommendations published in 2017 included that the Government work with trade unions to trial digital voting.

In an open letter to Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch MP, the BDA have lamented the lack of progress in the past six years. They stress that if there is any reticence to changing the legal framework that the union would be willing to participate in any trials.

Digital voting has become ubiquitous among UK membership bodies, including to select the leadership of all major national political parties.

Martin Woodrow, the British Dental Association’s Chief Executive and Returning Officer said:

“The legal requirement for trade unions to conduct our internal elections by post is antiquated. These rules stem from a time when the technology that facilitates digital participation in our everyday lives had yet to be invented.

“Digital voting is now widespread across society, including in membership organisations. The Conservative Party has even used digital voting to elect its leader; clearly demonstrating that it can be done safely and fairly.

“Ministers need to bring forward legislative changes promptly to free trade unions to conduct statutory elections and other statutory ballots by secure and transparent digital means.

“If trials are necessary, then the BDA and our members would be eager to participate and demonstrate that digital voting can be a success.”