The replacement of paper-and-pencil voting with an electronic system could see Australians lose confidence in the poll results, the electoral chief has warned. Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn defended the system’s reliability following attacks from election hopeful Clive Palmer, who portrayed himself as a victim of ”rigged” results and the AEC as a military-infiltrated ”national disgrace”. Despite the conspiracy claims, Mr Palmer extended his lead over his Liberal National Party rival to 111 votes on Friday, with the final counting of outstanding votes in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax expected on Saturday. The Palmer United Party founder and wealthy Queensland businessman reacted angrily to the discovery of 750 votes tallied against the wrong pre-poll location mid-way through the count. In an earlier mistake, officials noticed 1000 votes for Victorian independent Cathy McGowan had not been recorded correctly, pushing the seat of Indi further out of reach of former Coalition frontbencher Sophie Mirabella, who subsequently conceded defeat this week. Mr Killesteyn said computer-based voting would eliminate these kinds of ”human errors” but the benefits would have to be weighed against hacking and manipulation fears.
He said 75,000 Australians helped to conduct federal elections and political party scrutineers watched the counting – a level of involvement designed to inspire community confidence.
”The notion that you could actually materially manipulate the result is, I think, quite implausible,” he said on Friday.
”On the other hand, if you go to computer-based systems where everything is centralised, the risks start to increase that there could be significant manipulation of the results.”
Mr Killesteyn said numbering errors were picked up through normal checks comparing the lower house and upper house ballot paper totals for each location.
”A lot has been made of the votes in Indi that were supposedly ‘found’ … and the same with Fairfax. Those votes were never lost. In the Indi case, it was a transcription error. That’s all.
”The votes were properly secured. They were in a parcel. But when it was recorded in our election management systems a ‘2’ became a ‘1’. So that was fairly simple and that was picked up through our quality control processes.”
Full Article: Electoral chief cautious about online voting.