Articles about voting issues in Australia, New Zealand and other nations in Oceania.

New Zealand: Supreme Court told ban on prisoner voting infringes on rights | NZ Herald

The Solicitor-General has told the Supreme Court justices they risk undermining New Zealand’s democracy, if they rule on whether prisoners should be able to vote. Notorious “jailhouse lawyer” Arthur William Taylor has fought through the High Court, Court of Appeal, and now the Supreme Court, against the 2010 law which banned all prisoners from voting in elections. Previously prisoners could vote if they were serving a term of less than three years. The High Court did not overturn the ban, but did declare it was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act because it infringed on the rights of New Zealand citizens to vote. The Court of Appeal upheld that decision. Solicitor-General Una Jagose is presenting the Crown’s case to the Supreme Court this morning. She said prisoner voting rights were not an issue that should be decided by the courts. Read More

Australia: Electoral Commission ‘satisfied’ with security risks absorbed ahead of the 2016 election | ZDNet

A report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) last month called out the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for ditching compliance with Australian government IT security frameworks. In particular, the ANAO said insufficient attention was paid to assuring the security and integrity of the data generated both during and after operation, as the focus was on delivering a Senate scanning system by polling day. Facing Senate Estimates on Tuesday night, Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said he was satisfied with the risks that the AEC accepted ahead of its go-live. “They were not untreated risks — we were aware of them,” Rogers clarified. Read More

Samoa: Samoa’s elections going electronic in 2021 | Vaal

Samoa is moving to electronic voting in the 2021 general elections. The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalōmatumua Mathew Lemisio told Talamua the new voting system will solve the delays in obtaining preliminary election results on polling day. “After the 2016 by-election, we looked at ways to improve our service, and the electronic voting system is included in our 5 year Strategic Plan.” Read More

Australia: Parliamentary inquiry finds Western Australia’s electoral system ‘stuck in the past’ | Perth Now

Western Australia’s electoral system has become “stuck in the past” amid outdated legislation and a lack of funding, a parliamentary inquiry into the 2017 state election has found. The final report from the standing committee inquiry highlighted several problems with the security of internet voting, poor transparency for political donations and the state’s ageing Electoral Act. Inquiry chair Peter Katsambanis says the state’s 111-year old electoral legislation is a “hodgepodge of contradictory provisions that make no sense“, which prevented the use of electronic voting systems. Read More

Australia: Vision-impaired voters to have access to electronic voting at state election | In Daily

The State Government has approved the use of VoteAssist, a computer-based application developed by the Western Australian Electoral Commission for its 2013 state election. The software uses specially designed computer terminals, headphones and a numeric keypad to provide audio prompts to guide the elector through the voting process. The Government passed legislation last year to introduce electronically assisted voting technology. The legislation was prompted by recommendations made by the Electoral Commission following the 2010 and 2014 state elections, calling for a trial of alternative voting for some electors. Read More

Australia: A new type of scrutineer needed for Senate elections | CIO

There are few processes as critical to the smooth running of a society than the electoral process. It’s a procedure in which we must all trust. So it’s surprising that the current Senate count process was found by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to have several deficiencies which were not disclosed at the time of the election. ANAO identified several anomalies in the running of the 2016 Senate election which, although not necessarily casting doubt on the correctness of who was elected, are cause for concern. Read More

Australia: Electoral Commission failed basic cyber-security requirements, misled public during 2016 federal election, audit finds | ABC

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) misled the public about the security of its data during the 2016 federal election and failed to ensure it had not been compromised, a damning audit has found. The National Audit Office has revealed the AEC did not comply with the Federal Government’s basic cyber-security requirements due to time restraints, and accepted the extra security risk. The audit also revealed the Government’s cyber-spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), warned the AEC it was unlikely to resolve its security weaknesses before the July 2 poll. For the first time, the AEC contracted a company to digitally scan and count all Senate votes and preferences. But just days before the election, a decision was made to manually cross-check all ballots to ensure accuracy. Read More

Australia: Senate vote-counting-ware contract a complete shambles | The Register

The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC’s) handling of the nation’s 2016 election was deeply flawed, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has found. The auditor’s investigation was kicked off after the 2016 double-dissolution election, which introduced at short notice optional preferential voting for Australia’s Senate. The AEC anticipated a complex count, and in March 2016 had begun work on a system to automate the Senate count, but its timetable was foreshortened by the early election. That set off a chain of events that resulted in wasted money and security failures, the auditor has found. Read More

New Caledonia: Worries as New Caledonia’s independence vote approaches | The Interpreter

Last month, a year before the deadline for the referendum on independence from France, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe visited the semi-autonomous territory of New Caledonia. Philippe is anxious about potential unrest. In October, a special delegation of New Caledonians expressed their concerns to the UN decolonisation committee in New York. According to them, the Noumea Accord (the territory’s roadmap leading to the 2018 referendum) is not being applied correctly. How this situation unfolds will be of significant interest to the region. Read More

Australia: Electoral Commission exploring how technology can simplify voting process | ZDNet

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has told a House of Representatives committee that it is looking into a way for its officers to utilise technology to look up the status of citizens at the next federal election in lieu of the dated paper-based method currently employed. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters heard on Wednesday from AEC representatives, who explained that the government agency is “progressing a series of technical amendments” with the Department of Finance as part of its attempt to modernise the AEC. Read More