Future federal elections should use electronic vote counting to improve the accuracy of results, the ACT Electoral Commission has said. A joint parliamentary committee has been considering election methods after almost 1,400 votes went missing in Western Australia during the federal election. The problems led to a fresh Senate poll being held in WA and the resignation of Australian electoral commissioner Ed Killesteyn. ACT electoral commissioner Phil Green told the committee there were miscounts in every division in Western Australia. “Hand counting and hand sorting by using humans alone is an error-prone thing,” he said. “I think if you look at the result of the recount in Western Australia you can see that hand counting even a single first preference on a ballot paper is something that human beings aren’t very good at, but computers are very good at it.”
The ACT was forced to hold an expensive and time-consuming recount after the 1998 territory election and began exploring electronic options that could tally votes according to the territory’s Hare-Clark electoral system.
The commission now scans all paper-based votes to help speed up the counting process and ensure accuracy after elections.
An intelligent character recognition system is used to check the preferences and the results are compared to the manual count.