Oceania

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

Australia: Parliament Reports Cyberattack on Its Computer Network | The New York Times

The Australian Parliament said on Friday that hackers had tried to break into its computer network, which includes lawmakers’ email archives, but that so far there were no indications that data had been stolen. “Following a security incident on the parliamentary computing network, a number of measures have been implemented to protect the network and its users,” Parliament’s presiding officers, Tony Smith and Scott Ryan, said in a joint statement. “All users have been required to change their passwords. This has occurred overnight and this morning.” “There is no evidence that any data has been accessed or taken at this time, however this will remain subject to ongoing investigation,” the statement read. Australian news outlets reported that security agencies were investigating the possibility that a foreign government was behind the attack, possibly China’s.

Full Article: Australian Parliament Reports Cyberattack on Its Computer Network - The New York Times.

Australia: Instagram spreads political misinformation and Australian elections are vulnerable | ABC

In 2016, an Instagram account called @army_of_jesus_ posted an image of the son of God, imploring viewers to “like if you believe” or “keep scrolling if you don’t”. It received almost 88,000 likes. The account, as revealed later by security researchers, was run by Russian internet trolls. While much attention has been paid to attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election on Facebook and Twitter, the role of the image-based social media platform has been largely overlooked. In fact, according to two recent reports, Instagram became the platform of choice for Russia’s infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Full Article: Instagram spreads political misinformation and Australian elections are vulnerable - Science News - ABC News.

Australia: Electoral systems get 24×7 monitoring for 2019 election | iTnews

Australia’s electoral systems will be actively monitored around the clock by a new security operations centre during the upcoming federal election. The Australian Electoral Commission has put out the call for vendors capable of providing “short-term, event based security monitoring” of its internal systems in a bid to protect against unauthorised interference. The centre would be used to detect “common or generic system or network compromises or compromise attempts against the AEC’ systems” in the lead up to, during and following the election. It will also spot “defined specific compromise attempts against electoral systems”, according to a brief posted on the digital marketplace late last month.

Full Article: Aussie electoral systems get 24x7 monitoring for 2019 election - Strategy - Security - iTnews.

New Zealand: Online voting ‘no silver bullet’ for low turnout, study finds | Stuff.co.nz

Electronic voting is widely regarded as insecure and might not do much to help improve voter turnout, a new study suggests. The study published by Auckland University of Technology said online voting was “superficially attractive” but international evidence suggested it was not a silver bullet for reversing declining voter turnout. A trial of electronic voting planned for next year’s local council elections was scrapped by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) on Wednesday. But it is “never say die” for the trial’s backers who hope to have another crack in 2022 despite strong criticism of the idea from many  technology experts. LGNZ shelved its trial planned for nine council elections on cost grounds, rather than because of security concerns. It said it had found an unnamed vendor that satisfied all of its security and delivery requirements, but could not justify the $4.2 million cost of the trial. … The Auckland University of Technology study twists the knife, however.

Full Article: Online voting 'no silver bullet' for low turnout, study finds | Stuff.co.nz.

New Zealand: Supreme Court says ban on prisoner voting was lawful | NZ Herald

The Supreme Court says a blanket ban on prisoners voting was lawful. The court has today dismissed an appeal brought by jailhouse lawyer Arthur William Taylor asking them to declare a decision to ban all prisoners from voting was invalid. Taylor and the other appellants, represented by lawyer Richard Francois, have battled through the High Court, Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court for a declaration that Parliament was wrong to impose a blanket ban on prisoners voting. But while the High Court agreed the ban was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act, it did not declare the ban invalid. That decision has now been backed by New Zealand’s highest court. Taylor argued the ban, brought about in the Amendment Act 2010, was invalid because a supermajority of 75 per cent of all the members of the House of Representatives was required to pass the amendment, which did not happen.

Full Article: Supreme Court says ban on prisoner voting was lawful - NZ Herald.

New Zealand: Online voting trial for 2019 local body elections halted because of rising costs | TVNZ

A trial of online voting in next year’s local body will not take place after a working party of nine councils decided to halt the trial because of rising costs. A provider who satisfied the security and delivery requirements had recently been selected but ballooning costs forced the decision to not proceed with the trial in 2019. The working party will continue to work collaboratively with central government and the wider local government sector to deliver online voting for the 2022 local body elections. 

Full Article: Online voting trial for 2019 local body elections halted because of rising costs | 1 NEWS NOW | TVNZ.

Australia: Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn’t like e-voting – Paper’s safer, says parliamentary committee | The Register

An Australian parliamentary committee has nixed the idea of internet voting for federal elections Down Under, for now. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has delivered its report into the 2013 federal election, and in it, the body decided that there are plenty of ways technology can help elections – but ditching the country’s pencil-and-paper ballots isn’t one of them. The committee said technology “is not sufficiently mature for an election to be conducted through a full scale electronic voting process.” “Despite public enthusiasm for electronic voting, there are a number of serious problems with regard to electronic voting – particularly in relation to cost, security and verification of results”, the committee reported.

Full Article: Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn't like e-voting • The Register.

Australia: Coalition pushes for voter identification laws and launches attack on GetUp | The Guardian

Coalition MPs and senators have called for voter identification laws but Labor has warned such a push would amount to “a pathway to voter suppression”. The recommendation is contained in joint standing committee on electoral matters report on the 2016 election, which also calls for a higher bar to register a minor party and consideration of higher penalties for non-voting and tax deductibility of political donations. The Liberal chair, James McGrath, also used his foreword to the report to launch a stinging attack on GetUp, accusing it of providing “misleading information”. He said this was a “potential contempt of the parliament”, a claim rejected on Wednesday by the Speaker of the House. The Coalition-controlled committee recommended voters be made to verify their identity or their address at polling places by producing documents such as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or utilities bill.

Full Article: Coalition pushes for voter identification laws and launches attack on GetUp | Australia news | The Guardian.

Australia: NSW government finally released ‘net vote system review, says everything’s just fine Including, wait for it, ‘security through obscurity’. No, really | The Register

Australia’s New South Wales Electoral Commission has given its electronic voting system a clean bill of health, dismissing hacking fears as “theoretical,” and accepting a PWC report saying the system to date was protected by “security through obscurity”. Reviews of election processes are routine, and in 2016, the NSW Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters kicked off the Wilkins report. It was completed in May of this year, but was only recently made public (PDF). NSW’s “iVote” system was used by nearly 300,000 citizens in the 2015 election, a week after Melbourne University crypto-boffins Dr Vanessa Teague and Dr Chris Culnane demonstrated a FREAK-bug-like “theoretical attack”.

Full Article: NSW government finally released 'net vote system review, says everything's just fine • The Register.

New Zealand: Green Party calls on government to urgently repeal prisoner voting ban | The Spinoff

On the 125th anniversary of women exercising suffrage for the first time in NZ, the support party has called for a change in the law that sees incarcerated people ‘unjustifiably denied the right to vote’. The Green Party has added its voice to a growing call for a change in the law that denies people in prison the chance to vote, using parliamentary question time to urge Justice Minister Andrew Little to revisit an issue he has described as “not a priority”. The party’s move follows a landmark decision in the Supreme Court earlier this month and the launch of a campaign today by JustSpeak.

Full Article: Green Party calls on government to urgently repeal prisoner voting ban | The Spinoff.

Australia: Landslide state election loss rattles Australia’s minority government | Reuters

The Labor government in the Australian state of Victoria won an unexpectedly large majority in an election that analysts say is a warning to the country’s ruling conservative government ahead of national polls due in six months. Victoria is Australia’s second most populous state, and the poll is seen as a barometer of voter sentiment towards the nation’s conservative Liberal and National government. The governing coalition has been a minority government since October when they lost their one-seat majority after former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, ousted by conservatives in a party-room coup, resigned.

Full Article: Landslide state election loss rattles Australia's minority government | Reuters.

Fiji: Bainimarama returned as PM in slim victory | The Guardian

Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has held on to power in a general election, with his party winning a narrow majority. The Pacific nation this week went to the polls for only the second time since Bainimarama seized control in a military coup in 2006. A final count on Sunday put his FijiFirst party on 50.02% of the total vote, with the Social Democratic Liberal party, led by former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka, second on 39.85%. The National Federation party received 7.38%. The outcome is expected to give FijiFirst a narrow but outright majority in the country’s 51-seat parliament and Bainimarama a second term but is significantly tighter than the last election in 2014 when the party won almost 60%. Opposition members are considering challenging the result, local media have reported. While an interim Multinational Observer Group report has called the election process credible, a row broke out between opposition parties and electoral authorities over the weekend about the release of results, which have trickled in since the vote on Wednesday.

Full Article: Fiji election: Bainimarama returned as PM in slim victory | World news | The Guardian.

Fiji: Coup-makers act democratic | The Economist

Perpetrators of coups tend to do badly at the polls. Those who start their political careers as soldiers seldom adjust easily to life as elected politicians. Frank Bainimarama seems to be an exception. A former head of the armed forces who seized power in a coup in 2006, he won a general election on November 14th, for the second time in a row, with 52% of the vote, according to partial results released the next day. He may have been helped by the fact that his main opponent was another former coup leader and army commander, Sitiveni Rabuka, who started Fiji’s cycle of coups and counter-coups back in 1987. Despite his civilian clothing, Mr Bainimarama has not entirely shed his authoritarian instincts. He bullies journalists and uses an anti-corruption agency to hound rivals. Before the election he said he hoped for a parliament devoid of opposition. On that, at least, he will be disappointed.

Full Article: Fiji’s coup-makers act democratic - Fiji’s election.

Fiji: Prime minister leads provisional election count | Reuters

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was set to win re-election on Thursday, with a provisional count showing his Fiji First party holding a comfortable lead, although some voting has been delayed due to bad weather in the South Pacific nation. Bainimarama has held power in the island nation since 2006 when as military chief he led a bloodless coup. In 2014, he resigned from the military and became prime minister in a landslide victory at the first poll since his coup. Results posted on the government’s twitter account on Thursday morning showed Bainimarama’s Fiji First party leading with nearly 52 percent of the 367,350 votes counted. Over 500,000 Fijians were eligible to vote, according to the Fiji Elections Office (FEO) website.

Full Article: Fiji prime minister leads provisional election count | Reuters.

Fiji: Election disrupted as heavy rain forces more than a dozen polling places to close | ABC

Heavy rain has forced more than a dozen polling places in Fiji to close early on election day, affecting 7,852 people, who officials say will be permitted to cast their votes at a later date. Fiji’s supervisor of elections, Mohammad Saneem, told a press conference the 23 polling venues in question were no longer accessible due to rising water levels. “It appears that the waters are rising as I speak, and therefore it has become necessary [for me] to consider adjourning polling at these locations,” he said. Mr Saneem said polling at those locations would begin at a later date, to be announced following consultations between his office and Fiji’s Electoral Commission.

Full Article: Fiji election disrupted as heavy rain forces more than a dozen polling places to close - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

New Zealand: Prison reform group wants debate on prisoners’ right to vote | RNZ

A prison reform group wants to have a public debate on prisoners’ right to vote, after the Supreme Court ruled it is a right of all New Zealanders. The court earlier this week upheld a High Court decision which found that a law restricting a prisoner’s right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. The government said the issue was not a priority, but Howard League for Penal Reform spokesperson Christine McCarthy said the court’s decision should put the issue on the agenda. “What is so dangerous about prisoners voting? The only reason people are put in prison is – supposedly – about safety to the community.

Full Article: Prison reform group wants debate on prisoners' right to vote | RNZ News.

Australia: Government rules out dual election option, says poll will be ‘next year’ | Sydney Morning Herald

The Morrison government has ruled out a “dual election” scenario where Australian voters would go to two federal elections next year, after talks about the option emerged in the media. Special Minister of State Alex Hawke dismissed the idea and insisted on the standard timetable for an election next year. “The government has no plans for a dual election. The election is due next year, as required,” Mr Hawke tweeted. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office also rejected the option, saying “the government has no plans for a dual election” and also stipulating the election would be next year, as Mr Morrison continues a bus tour in regional Queensland to listen to voters.

Full Article: Government rules out dual election option, says poll will be 'next year'.

Australia: Minority government confirmed as critical by-election result announced | Reuters

Australia’s conservative government has lost its parliamentary majority after an independent candidate was on Monday confirmed the winner in a critical by-election. Voters in the wealthy seaside constituency of Wentworth, in Sydney’s east, went to the polls on Oct 20 to chose a replacement for former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who quit politics in August after he was ousted by his own party. Widespread voter anger at Turnbull’s demise saw the ruling Liberal party hemorrhage votes, though the race narrowed to come down to a several thousand postal votes.

Full Article: Minority Australian government confirmed as critical by-election result announced | Reuters.

New Caledonia: Voters say ‘Non’ to independence from France | New Zealand Herald

A majority of voters in New Caledonia chose to remain part of France instead of backing independence, election officials announced as French President Emmanuel Macron promised a full dialogue on the region’s future. The decision to keep ties with France was a watershed moment for the archipelago. The independence referendum itself was a milestone in New Caledonia’s three-decades-long decolonisation process, which was borne out of deep resentment by the region’s native Kanaks of decades of ill treatment by their European coloniser. Final results saw 56.4 per cent of voters choosing to remain part of France compared to 43.6 per cent support for independence, the high commissioner’s office said. The poll had a record-high participation rate of 80.6 per cent of registered voters — so many that some polling stations in the capital, Noumea, had to stay open about an hour longer than planned yesterday to handle the crush.

Full Article: New Caledonia voters say 'Non' to independence from France - NZ Herald.

Australia: ​Electoral Commission seeks advice on overhauling 30-year-old systems | ZDNet

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) wants to overhaul its election systems, but it doesn’t exactly know how such overhaul will look, or what it will comprise of. The AEC published a request for information (RFI) this week, seeking specifically “innovative” ideas and approaches to designing and delivering an Election Systems Modernisation Program, asking the market for guidance on everything from procurement constraints to the end result. The core software platforms currently in place at the AEC have been in use for almost 30 years, the RFI revealed, with the AEC’s systems environment consisting of approximately 93 systems and supporting sub-systems. The 90-plus systems deliver services to citizens and political parties, support the work of the AEC, and provide integration and interface services, the AEC explained.

Full Article: ​Electoral Commission seeks advice on overhauling 30-year-old systems | ZDNet.