A committee of Australian MPs has firmly staked its opposition to the large-scale implementation of electronic voting, pointing to expensive and embarrassing failures of the technology worldwide. The House of Representatives electoral matters committee today rushed out an interim report hosing down suggestions Australia should move to electronic polls, following the controversial loss of WA senate ballots in the 2013 federal election. The panel of MPs concluded there was no feasible way of rolling out electronic voting in Australia without undermining the integrity, security and civic importance of the process – and incurring a massive cost to the Commonwealth. The committee pointed to expensive and embarrassing mishaps across the world as other nations experimented with different versions of electronically enabled polls, from static and isolated machines to full web-based voting.
Ireland offers the most damning example – the nation spent €51 million (A$78 million) in the hope of having a polling machine-based electronic voting system up and running by June 2004. But its electoral commission shut down the plans before they could go ahead – not least because a team of computer scientists proved the system to be inherently hackable – and the government was left with nothing but €70,267 worth of scrap metal for its efforts.
The US is also starting to cool on electronic voting machines, the committee found, especially after malfunctioning machines in North Carolina and Maryland were found to have flipped votes between the two major political parties.
Estonia, the only known country to have adopted web-based voting on a national scale, is stubbornly holding on to the technology – even though an independent report found that the system is vulnerable to malware and could quite feasibly be attacked.