Australia

Articles about voting issues in the Commonwealth of Australia.

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

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

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

Australia: State government hacked in massive computer network attacks | WAToday

The state government has faced a massive onslaught of computer network attacks since the last election, with tens of millions of attempted intrusions and successful hacks on the Premier’s department, Main Roads, the finance and local government departments. In answers to parliamentary questions asked by opposition frontbencher Zak Kirkup, the government also revealed it had been subject to attacks on its information systems by “nation-state foreign actors”. The Department of Finance, which also provides information security for the Department of Treasury, bore the brunt of the attacks, recording 15.5 million intrusion attempts on its networks and website. Of these, 11 attacks were successful, but Treasurer Ben Wyatt said there had been “no indication that any Cabinet or customer-related material was compromised”. Read More

Australia: E-voting systems are still too vulnerable to be feasible for Australia | Tech Wire Asia

Voting in Australia has long followed the same formula – use pencils to mark on a piece of paper behind a cardboard booth, then folding said paper and slotting it into a box. For years, having humans manually count paper ballots have created an electoral system that is deemed highly secure and tamper-resistant. Compulsory voting in the country has helped secure against suppression tactics that have affected elections in the US and the UK. In the digital age, it is tempting to move voting online; the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) tried dabbling in e-voting in 2013. However, experts warned that e-voting brings more harm than good. The trouble of electronic voting has been in the spotlight for the past few years at DefCon, the world’s largest hacker conference taking place annually in the US, where hackers have been showcasing vulnerabilities to the US election equipment, databases, and infrastructure. In fact, this year an 11-year-old managed to hack into replica websites to manipulate vote tallies in just 10 minutes. Read More

Australia: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Australia should stay away from electronic voting | IDM Magazine

The civic experience of interacting with analogue voting interfaces is as Australian as the democracy sausage. Voters are confronted with tiny pencils, plus physical security measures that involve huddling in a cardboard booth and origami-scale folding. The use of paper ballots – and human counting of those ballots – creates one of the most secure electoral systems imaginable. And the Australian tradition provides another sometimes under-recognised component of electoral security: compulsory voting. This practice secures against the voter suppression tactics used to undermine elections in the United States. In the digital era, smartphones are so prevalent that it might seem tempting to move to voting online. In 2013 the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) explored internet voting. But cyber security experts say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The problems the US has had with electronic voting provide a perfect illustration of what can go wrong. Every year hackers and cyber security experts from across the globe converge “In Real Life” (IRL) on Las Vegas to attend one of the world’s largest and longest-running annual hacker conventions: DefCon. Read More