Participatory Democracy

Participatory Budgeting and E-voting

The Young Scot card uses the latest technology to increase young people's access to the democratic process on local and national levels.

Using the Young Scot National Entitlement Card held by over 689, 210 young people, we've developed our own bespoke participatory budgeting and e-voting platform. Created for young people, the Young participatory budgeting and e-voting platform is a powerful way to unlock democracy and put decision making into their hands.

What is Participatory Budgeting and E-voting?

Young people are a key partner in community engagement. However traditional methods of engagement can often miss the voices of young people.

Here's where the Young Scot e-voting and participatory budgeting platform can help you. It can be used for:

  • Participatory budgeting - giving young people the power to decide for money or resources are allocated between projects. For example, this could be a specific fund or the wider youth work budget.
  • E-voting - voting for a candidate or project. We've been working with the Scottish Youth Parliament to do this for the last three elections.
  • Consultation - empowering young people to tell you what your strategic priorities should be. This could be part of a wider consultation on your budgets, strategy or priorities.

The Young Scot online voting system itself that can reduce the administrative burden the most. Our system is robust, secure and does not require any additional data from young people.

Enhanced Communication

Young Scot compliments the online voting system by harnessing our existing high profile and trusted brand, to highlight opportunities to engage, and encourage young people to take part in local PB exercises

Young Scot can create a bespoke website channel on with a unique URL to support your local PB activity. This site will serve to provide information, signposting and guidance in relation to local projects. It will also host links to the online votes when live.

Rewarding Participation

Young Scot can encourage participation in your vote by using our well established Rewards Platform. Working with you we can create a points value for casting their vote, learning more about their voting or attending an event. With over 93, 372 registered Rewards users this is a powerful way of encouraging participation.

Co-design & Offline Participation

For larger projects, our co-design can work with young people to help generate ideas to be submitted, or help turn young people’s first ideas into fully formed bids.

Support at Face to Face Events

For young people there is no such thing as offline and online worlds; they are one and the same. For enhanced projects we can help at face to face voting events, encouraging young people to have their say and hosting a digital ‘polling booth’ at a community event or similar.

What voting systems can we use?

We tend to see three main ways of voting but our system is developing all the time and we can look at using any system of voting. If it's not listed below, get in touch to discuss what we can do to help you.

Single constituency

One vote, per person, per election; the "classic" that's been used to elect Members of the UK Parliament for hundreds of years.

Multiple constituencies

We can run a number of parallel ballots –  grouped geographically or thematically. Young people cast one vote in one of the ballots.

Multiple constituencies, multiple votes:

For bigger projects we can run a number of parallel ballots – again this can be either geographical or thematic. Young people are able to vote in all of the constituencies.

How to e-voting and participatory budgeting help you

Community Empowerment

Participatory  Budgeting underpins the objectives of the Community Empowerment (ScotlandAct.

Saves you time and money

With no manual votes to count and no recounts, results can be with you very quickly. You don't need to print ballot papers and you'll have a full digital audit trail. This means you can let the candidates and projects know the results shortly after the voting closes.

 1% of local government budgets by the end of 2021,

The Scottish Government and COSLA have announced that at least 1% of local government budgets should be allocated through participatory budgeting (PB) by the end of 2021, with £100 million in council funds potentially available.

Examples of our participatory budgeting and e-voting platform in action

SYP Elections

Every two years we team up with our friends at the Scottish Youth Parliament to support the SYP election. Using the e-voting platform, 35,905 young selected their local page, read and listened to manifestos, then cast their e-vote for their favored candidate.

Dumfries & Galloway

In November 2017, 1,000 young people in Dumfries and Galloway voted online using the Young Scot platform. Young people voted for both large and small grant pots, allocating £60,000 across the area.

North Ayrshire

In February 2018, over 7,000 young people accessed Young Scot’s e-voting platform to decide how £52,000 should be allocated to  youth projects in six localities in North Ayrshire.


In March 2018, 2,500 young people voted in Edinburgh, using a mixture of Young Scot’s digital platform and paper voting, to allocate £160,000 of the youth work budget for the City.

Here’s just some of our partners who have used the Young Scot e-voting platform

Frequently asked questions

What if they don't have a Young Scot Card

With 689, 210 cardholders in Scotland (that's 73% of all young people) our system is universal. However, people sometimes don't have a card or are waiting for a new one. We can create single-use temporary card number for just this situation.

Is e-voting more open to fraud?

No system is perfect but because the Young Scot system is based on the National Entitlement Card we are able to make sure only young people from a particular area are able to vote and each card can only vote once. E-voting is much more secure than offline voting methods and we can keep an eye on voting patterns for any irregular patterns.

Do young people vote online

They do, in their thousands. E-voting is much more convenient for young people. Because the Young Scot platform works on any tablet, mobile phone or PC we have immediately removed the need to travel, which is a major barrier to participation. All of our partners have seen significantly more engagement by using the Young Scot e-voting and participatory budgeting system.

Can this be combined with offline events

Absolutely, in fact, this is something that works very well. Offline events in schools, youth clubs, colleges and the community can be combined with the online voting method. This can be done with young people using internet-enabled devices in the room or through a paper ballot that is combined with the digital results.

Do young people need to register with the system?

We're happy to say it's really easy for young people to use (in fact they helped us to design it). Our system is robust, secure and does not require any additional data from young people. All they provide is their Young Scot Card number, nothing else.

Is the system anonymous

All a young person needs to vote is their Young Scot National Entitlement Card number. We don't ask for any other information. The only way to know how a young person has voted is to know their card number and have access to the records (which isn't necessary). We will work with you as independent adjudicators to make sure votes remain anonymous and secure, while still giving you all the information you need.

What do you do with the data?

All of the voting information is registered on secure servers hosted in Europe. All information is encrypted and files are password protected so only verified members of the team can see the data. We will agree with you how long the data needs to be kept for and in what format so it's inline with your audit processes.

Is this system linked to a data about young people?

The e-voting and participatory budgeting system never need to access the records of cardholders (which is held securely by NECPO at Dundee City Council) it simply looks up to check if the card number is valid against a list of existing numbers. It does need or have access to any other data about young people which means it is safe and secure.

Since we do not need to ask for personal details, there is no way for any personal data to be lost or stolen, and in addition, it is not possible to register multiple times using a ‘fake’ name.

Many young people feel that they don’t have a say in decision-making. Online voting engages young people where they are. Young Scot’s online voting platform is a potentially useful system to adopt as part of wider efforts to grow participatory democracy and PB locally.

Participatory Budgeting Platform Andrew Paterson, PB Scotland

We are delighted that so many young people from all over North Ayrshire got involved in this Participatory Budgeting exercise. They literally turned out in their thousands to decide how money should be spent on youth and extra-curricular projects for young people.

North Ayrshire Participatory Budgetting Councillor Peter McNamara, North Ayrshire’s Youth Champion