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.
Articles about voting issues in the Commonwealth of Australia.
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.
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.
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.”
Australia: Random number generator to determine candidate positions on ballot paper on Thursday | The Canberra Times
Candidates will discover on Thursday their position on the ballot paper in October’s election, although with a random ballot paper it is not clear there is any advantage to be had. The names of more than 100 candidates expected to stand for the hotly contested ACT election will be announced at lunchtime. With an extra eight seats up for grabs as the Parliament swells to 25 members, this election offers the best opportunity to get elected of any election since self-government. If every incumbent keeps their seat other than the two retiring members, there will still be 10 new faces. To ensure no advantage from ballot position, the ACT Electoral Commission will use a random number generator to decide the order in which the parties appear. Independents will all be on the right-hand side of the ballot paper – in one column if there are up to five independents, and spreading over two or more columns if there are more.
Australia: Northern Territory election: voters forced to wait for fully analysed costings | The Guardian
Both major parties contesting the Northern Territory election on Saturday are yet to release fully analysed costings of their campaign and other commitments. The governing Country Liberal party released its costings on Tuesday afternoon – past their own deadline of Monday but well before Labor’s release, planned for Thursday. The CLP has claimed its costings would see a positive balance of $35.78m over three years from 2018-18 and said its analysis of Labor’s commitments had found a debt of $523.51m over the same period. However, the CLP costings have not yet been assessed by Treasury, meaning voters will receive fully analysed data from both parties at about the same time. The deputy chief minister, Peter Styles, said he hoped Treasury would return the CLP costings soon.
Australia: Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into online voting to begin public hearings | news.com.au
Just weeks after the trouble-plagued first online Census, Victoria is pressing forward with public hearings to examine the effectiveness of electronic voting as part of a Parliamentary Inquiry into the matter. Beginning today, the Electoral Matters Committee will hear from electoral commissions, technology specialists and community advocacy groups. The inquiry will hear from experts and stakeholders during sessions on Monday and Wednesday this week as they examine what has become an increasingly contentious issue. In the fallout from the bungled online Census, many commentators lamented the damage it had done on the movement towards online voting. … Plenty of advocates remain undeterred and would like to see the government explore ways to deliver comprehensive electronic voting in the future. But according to those who have provided submission to the inquiry, there are plenty of pitfalls to consider.
Moves to introduce online voting in Australian elections has been dealt a “massive blow by the disastrous stuff-up” on Census night, with some commentators saying it is dead in the water. Software experts and e-voting supporters have lashed out at the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ “incompetence” and say it will cruel future government mass internet projects like online voting. “In a single fell swoop the appalling incompetence of ABS statisticians has dealt an absolute blow … to the future of online voting,” David Glance told news.com.au. Dr Glance, who is director of the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Software Practice, said the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), had “not only damaged their own reputation and their ability to convince anyone to take seriously any of their technical claims. “They have brought into question the ability of any government agency to be able to run technology projects of this scale. “This has tipped back running elections online into the risks outweighing the benefits.” David Crowe, political correspondent for The Australian, went further, “Online voting, always a risky prospect, is certainly dead after this affair”.
Australia has halted online collection of national census data after a website where citizens could upload information was subjected to repeated cyberattacks. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said its website had experienced four denial-of-service attacks, in which a torrent of automated requests is sent to overwhelm a site. The last attack, just after 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, contributed to the overloading of a router, which led to the decision that night to close down online data gathering. The census, which occurs every five years, has been the subject of intense criticism and questions this year over whether the introduction of online data collection could leave Australians’ personal information at risk. Australian officials said on Wednesday that the census system had not been infiltrated and that no data had been compromised.
Australia: Census debacle should bring pause in electronic voting moves: expert | Sydney Morning Herald
A leading expert in electronic voting says proposals for an overhaul of Australian elections could be slowed by Tuesday’s census debacle, calling for a parliamentary committee to carefully consider security, verification and capacity as part of any new consideration. Former NSW Electoral Commission director of information and technology Ian Brightwell said the Australian Electoral Commission would have to be prepared to allow significantly increased external scrutiny of its processes and systems if it follows calls by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for further moves towards electronic voting at federal elections. Responsible for the implementation of the NSW iVote electronic system, used in the 2011 and 2015 state elections, Mr Brightwell has worked for two decades in management of technology in election processes. He said the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ mishandling of the census would be a lesson for the election authorities and politicians, but that public education was needed to build confidence in electronic systems before more people could vote using computers.