Oceania

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

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. Read More

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. Read More

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.  Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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”. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More