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

New Zealand: Election date set, let the campaigning begin | Radio New Zealand

Mark it in your diary – New Zealand will go to the polls on 23 September. That Saturday has been the most widely-picked date, and will take place almost three years to the day since the 2014 election. Before he resigned as Prime Minister, John Key dropped hints about a September election. Bill English has stuck to that timetable. To go much earlier would have opened the party up to criticism it was panicking, and that it feared Mr English could not hold, or attract, the attention of voters for that many months. He will want to give himself as much time as possible to settle in as Prime Minister, and have as many photo opportunities as possible with world leaders at international events, all of which helps build the “prime ministerial” image. Read More

Papua New Guinea: Disabled voters in Papua fight for access to polling stations | The Jakarta Post

Hundreds of voters with disabilities in Jayapura, Papua, are hoping they can cast their votes during the concurrent regional elections slated for Feb. 15. “As Indonesian citizens with civil and political rights equal to others, we hope we can exercise our right to vote, although we have limitations” Papua-chapter Indonesia Difable Foundation (PCI) secretary Robby Yong said in Jayapura on Tuesday. He said many people with disabilities did not have wheelchairs, while in several cases, those with severe disabilities could only lie on their beds despite the fact they had the right to vote. Read More

Fiji: Elections body allowed to lapse out of existence | Radio New Zealand

With an election looming in Fiji in 2018, the commission responsible for overseeing preparations has been allowed to lapse out of existence. On 9 January, the three-year term of the independent Electoral Commission, a constitutionally-mandated seven-member body tasked with supervising the Elections Office, which is responsible for preparing the vote, expired. Opposition parties say there appears to be no rush to replace the commission, which they say raises concerns about the state of Fiji’s nascent democracy as it prepares to enter its second elections since Frank Bainimarama’s 2006 coup. “There are no longer commissioners and there is no longer an Electoral Commission in place and that’s serious because it’s a constitutional office,” said Biman Prasad, the leader of the opposition National Federation Party. “It shouldn’t be allowed to remain vacant but that is exactly what has happened.” Read More

Papua New Guinea: Pressure grows over PNG election preparations | Radio New Zealand

Papua New Guinea’s Electoral Commission is under pressure from opposition MPs over preparation for general elections. PNG is due for its five-yearly general elections in mid-2017, with the two-week polling period expected to take place around mid to late June. But late changes to election rules and PNG’s error-ridden common roll have sparked concern, as Johnny Blades reports. The Electoral Commissioner admits that the roll he inherited, which was used in the 2012 general elections, was inflated. Patilius Gamato says Australia’s Electoral Commission has helped cleanse the roll of about 109-thousand so-called “ghost names” out of a total of more than 4 million. He hopes to print the final roll by the end of March. An intending candidate in Hela province, George Tagobe, says getting the roll right is important in his province, given the potential for unrest. Read More

Australia: Electoral Commission plans for voting with pens, not pencils | Sydney Morning Herald

Australian voters could soon use pens to vote at federal elections, as part of a plan to replace traditional ballot box pencils. Since 1902, electoral laws have required ballot boxes to be “furnished with a pencil for the use of voters”, but in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry the Australian Electoral Commission has asked to be given the option of voters using pens. The plans comes amid moves to replace pencils for voting in state and overseas elections, although Australians have always had the right to bring their own pen on election day. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has asked the inquiry, which is reviewing the July 2 federal election, to recommend the change to section 206 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act as technology for counting votes continues to improve. Read More

Australia: Voter ID: The bombshell recommendation that brings an American problem to NSW | The Canberra Times

During the final sitting week of the NSW Parliament for the year, dominated by furious debate over legislation removing Independent Commission Against Corruption chief Megan Latham from her job, a parliamentary committee tabled a report containing an equally contentious measure. The report on the 2015 state election from the joint standing committee on electoral matters suggested a range of improvements to NSW voting rules based on the most recent poll. It contains a bombshell recommendation: that NSW voters be forced to produce photo identification before they are able to cast a ballot. Read More

Australia: E-voting risks in Australia after Russian hacking in US election | Financial Review

The Turnbull government’s new Cyber Ambassador, Tobias Feakin, has warned of the risks of e-voting after allegations Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails may have influenced the US election outcome. The comments may further slow moves towards a change, after Labor turned on the idea in its submissions to a joint parliamentary inquiry into the federal election, saying the online census outage was cause to proceed with caution. In the days after the Australian federal election, both Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten called for the introduction of electronic voting, saying in 2016 it should not take more than eight days to find out a result. … E-voting expert University of Melbourne’s Vanessa Teague has previously said instead of at-home e-voting via personal devices, which could be unsafe, she would instead advocate a change to e-voting via computers at polling places. Read More

Australia: Electoral Commission wants money to fix aging IT systems | ZDNet

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has warmed its existing IT systems are nearing the end of their life and that it needs money to have them updated. In a parliamentary submission, Inquiry into the conduct of the 2016 federal election and matters related thereto, Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers raised concerns about the AEC’s current staffing model, noting that the number of staff has gone unchanged since 1984, despite the growing pool of voters. “I believe the temporary staffing model and the AEC’s election and roll management IT systems are at the end of their useful life,” Rogers wrote in his submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. “As a result, much of the delivery of elections and the data for monitoring and reporting on that delivery is reliant on human intervention and manual processes.” Read More

Palau: Slim lead for incumbent in Palau election – Absentee votes to decide result | Radio New Zealand

The Electoral Commission said absentee votes, which will be counted after the 8th of November, will decide the outcome of the national election. But the Election Service Administrator Elenita Bennie Brel said the final result will not be announced until later this month. Elenita Bennie Brel said this is partly due to electoral provisions but is also because the absentee ballots will be sorted and counted manually in-front of representatives of the candidates. Read More

Palau: Brothers-in-law vying for presidency | The Independent

The Pacific island nation of Palau goes to the polls Tuesday with two brothers-in-law vying to become president – and they admit it’s made for some awkward conversations at the family dinner table. The election pits incumbent Tommy Remengesau against Surangel Whipps Jr. after they emerged as the leading contenders in a run-off vote in September. Whipps is married to Remengesau’s sister but has not let family ties constrain his campaign as he seeks to end his rival’s 12 years in office. The challenger has campaigned on a platform of change, pointing to social problems in the nation of 22,000, which lies about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) east of the Philippines. Read More