Neville Hobson

The election QR code that lacks imagination


Much of the UK went to the polls today in a mix of national and local elections. Elections for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly are being held, as are polls in 279 English councils.

And there is the national referendum on the so-called Alternative Vote system where voters will decide on how MPs are elected to the House of Commons.

As I write this, the polls are still open for another 45 minutes, until 10pm: we should know how everything stands during tomorrow Friday.

My wife and I voted this morning. When we arrived at the polling station, I was curious to see the list of candidates competing for election to our local council pinned to the wall in the entrance which included a QR code.

What happens when you scan that code with an app on your mobile device? I wondered. So I did using the Barcode Scanner app for Android on my HTC Desire smartphone.

This is the result. The next step depends on which of the three buttons you tap on your phone’s screen: Web search, Share via email or Share via SMS. Here’s what happens when you tap ‘Web search’:

I then sent myself an email to see the result of tapping the ‘Share via email’ button:

What a disappointment! I wasn’t sure what to expect from scanning and tapping but it certainly was something more imaginative than all of this.

Biographies of the candidates standing for election in my constituency, perhaps. Maybe with a concise statement of what they propose to do if elected. Perhaps a brief  audio or video message. All sharable. Or maybe a useful summary of everything about today on Wokingham Borough Council’s website.

All designed for display and use on a mobile device. After all, why have a QR code designed for use on a mobile device if you don’t make its use actually compelling? Or is there some electoral rule or regulation that prohibits the application of some imagination to digital communication?

I really would love to know what the goal was in including the QR code this way if the results were actually of very little use.

Did you see some imagination with QR codes in your constituency?

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