Oceania

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

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.

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”.

Full Article: State government hacked in massive computer network attacks.

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.

Full Article: E-voting systems are still too vulnerable to be feasible for Australia.

New Zealand: Councils warned electronic voting will not be secure | Stuff.co.nz

Plans to allow online voting in next year’s councils elections have run into a wall of opposition from technology experts, who say internet voting can’t be secure. Local Government New Zealand will issue a tender for an online system that would be used in nine council elections, including in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, alongside postal voting. The decision to shop for an online voting system comes amid growing international concern about election interference by foreign powers in the wake of the United States 2016 presidential election and Britain’s Brexit vote. …  James Valentine, chief technology officer of Wellington IT company Fronde, was among dozens of technologists who took to social media to oppose the local government plan, tweeting there were “lots of concerns” including security and ballot secrecy.

Full Article: Councils warned electronic voting will not be secure | Stuff.co.nz.

Fiji: Roll will close same day Fiji election announced | Radio New Zealand

The Fiji Elections Office says the registration of voters will close on the day the writ of election is announced. The FBC reported more than 600,000 Fijians have registered for the 2018 General Election as of the first of August this year. The date the 2018 General Election will be held has still not yet been announced. The Elections office Communications Director, Edwin Nand said the writ could be announced at any time and it’s important for eligible Fijians to take the opportunity to register now.

Full Article: Roll will close same day Fiji election announced | RNZ News.

New Zealand: Plans for online voting at local govt elections ‘dangerous’ | Radio New Zealand

An Australian IT expert says New Zealand would be crazy to adopt online voting for local government elections and would be opening itself up to widespread electoral fraud. Nine councils including Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga want to use it at next year’s elections, despite there being few examples overseas of where it is being used successfully or safely. Online voting was first used at government elections in Estonia in 2005. Its take up by the rest of the world since then has been limited at best, in large part due to vulnerabilities in its systems that allowed hackers to cast fake votes and rig elections. Australian IT expert Vanessa Teague alerted authorities to faults in the 2015 New South Wales state elections, where a quarter of a million voted online. There were plenty of hackers worldwide happy to take money from a vested interest looking to manipulate an election in their favour, she said.

Full Article: Plans for online voting at local govt elections 'dangerous' | RNZ News.

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.

Full Article: If it ain't broke, don't fix it: Australia should stay away from electronic voting | IDM Magazine.

Australia: Intelligence officials plan to repel fake news in Australian federal election | Financial Review

Australian intelligence and government officials are working on the best means to repel attacks from foreign actors attempting to cause unrest and interfere with the 2019 federal election via the dissemination of fake news of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. A new wave of election interference came into the spotlight following the shock election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016. Russia-linked accounts were discovered to have been circulating false stories over Facebook, Twitter and Google before the election in an attempt to whip up social and political unrest with outlandish claims which many Americans believed.

Full Article: Intelligence officials plan to repel fake news in Australian federal election | afr.com.

Australia: Facebook working with Australian authorities to improve election integrity | AdNews

Facebook’s Australia boss Will Easton says the social media giant is working with local authorities to ensure next year’s federal election is not influenced by fake accounts and bad actors manipulating users on the social media platform, according to an interview with Fairfax Media. Easton said its policy team is working with the government on election integrity in a effort to prevent an Australian version of the Cambridge Analytica scandal where user data was harvested and then used by political strategists to manipulate and influence users to vote for Donald Trump in the US election. “Our policy team are in constant connection with the government around a number of different areas and election integrity is clearly a part of that. We’re very proactively talking to the election authorities in Australia about potential elections coming up,” he told the Fairfax Media.

Full Article: Facebook working with Australian authorities to improve election integrity - AdNews.

Fiji: Aussies Co-Lead Observers Group For Elections | Fiji Sun

Australia will co-lead the Multinational Observation Group (MOG) for the 2018 General Election. Together with Indonesia and India, the three parties will observe and evaluate the functions and operations of the Fijian Elections Office with respect to the 2018 Fijian General Elections. Acting Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum signed the terms of reference for the MOG with the Australian High Commissioner John Feakes and the Indonesian Ambassador to Fiji Benyamin Scott Carnadi signing on behalf of the two countries. The Indian Government will be signing subsequent to the Indian High Commissioner returning from Nauru next week.

Full Article: Aussies Co-Lead Observers Group For Elections | Fiji Sun.

Papua New Guinea: 2 Million Papuan Voters Threatened to Lose Voting Rights, House of Parliament Reacts | Netral News

House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo (Bamsoet) fears that some 2 million Papuan voters could not exercise their voting rights in the 2019 Election. This was said after the Papua Election Commission released a data on voters who did not have an electronic identity card (e-KTP) comprise of 2 million prospective voters. Bamsoet says if referring to Regulation Number 7 Year 2017 on General Elections, e-KTP becomes a valid requirement of voters to exercise their right to vote. The right to vote for all Indonesian citizens (WNI) must be guaranteed. Therefore, Bamsoet asked the Interior Ministry together with the Papua Population and Civil Registration Service to immediately collect data / matching activities and research on people who do not have e-KTP.

Full Article: 2 Million Papuan Voters Threatened to Lose Voting Rights, House of Parliament Reacts.

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

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.

Full Article: If it ain't broke, don't fix it: Australia should stay away from electronic voting.

Australia: MP warns of cyber threat to Australian elections | Computerworld

The shadow assistant minister for cyber security, Gai Brodtmann, has called for the government to classify Australia’s election systems as a “critical infrastructure sector” under the Trusted Information Sharing Network in order to “overlay the appropriate scrutiny and assurance mechanisms to assure the Australian people of the cyber resilience of their democracy”. The Labor MP, who earlier this month announced she would not contest the next election, cited concerns over alleged attempts to influence the US and French elections as well as the denial of service attacks on the 2016 Census. The TISN is an initiative to boost information sharing and collaboration between critical infrastructure operators.

Full Article: MP warns of cyber threat to Australian elections - Computerworld.

Australia: Want to hack the Western Australia government? Try ‘Password123’ | Computerworld

A staggering 60,000 out of 234,0000 active accounts at a range of WA government agencies were potentially at risk of a dictionary attack due to their weak passwords, a review by the state’s auditor general has found. The state’s auditor general today upheld a venerable WA government information security tradition, slamming agencies for poor practices when it came to passwords and other protective measures. For the report, the WA Office of the Auditor General obtained encrypted password data from 23 Active Directory environments across 17 agencies. Using a selection of password dictionaries it found that tens of thousands of users had chosen weak passwords including “Password123” (1464 accounts), “password1” (813), “password” (184), “password2” (142) and “Password01” (118). “‘After repeatedly raising password risks with agencies, it is unacceptable that people are still using Password123 and abcd1234 to access critical agency systems and information,” said Western Australia’s auditor general, Caroline Spencer.

Full Article: Want to hack the WA government? Try ‘Password123’ - Computerworld.

Australia: Flaws in ACT election systems could reveal voters’ votes | ZDNet

Two newly revealed flaws in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) electronic voting systems could have allowed voters to be linked to their votes, breaking the core democratic concept of the secret ballot. The vulnerabilities were disclosed in a detailed technical write-up on Monday by independent security researcher T Wilson-Brown, who originally discovered and confirmed the flaws in early January. Elections ACT had agreed in March to public disclosure on April 9, but on April 10 it pulled out. Four months later, Wilson-Brown has published them, to allow time for changes to be made before the next ACT election in 2020. The first vulnerability stems from Elections ACT publishing online the individual, and their preference allocations under the ACT’s preferential voting system, for later analysis.

Full Article: Flaws in ACT election systems could reveal voters' votes | ZDNet.

Australia: Election rejection: Tasmanian activists launch inquiry into 2018 result | The Guardian

A March election would usually be a distant memory by August. But not so in Tasmania, where anger over the 2018 campaign remains white-hot. A group of community activists will tap into that sentiment on Wednesday, launching a novel concept in a state with the weakest political donations laws in the country – fed up over a lack of political transparency, the group will hold its own inquiry into the 2018 state election.

Full Article: Election rejection: Tasmanian activists launch inquiry into 2018 result | Australia news | The Guardian.