The third interim report by the Australian Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters into the conduct of the 2016 federal election has recommended that the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) be modernised and have its 25-year-old technology systems updated, as well as conduct a pilot of electronic counting and scanning of House of Representatives ballot papers. With changes to the way preferences were allocated in the Senate before the federal election in 2016, the AEC introduced a semi-automated process to scan Senate ballot papers. Due to Australia’s complex Senate quota system, the counting was already handled electronically. Handing down its report [PDF] on Wednesday, the joint committee endorsed plans by the AEC to extend the scanning and counting to Australia’s lower house. … But the report by a joint parliamentary committee stops short of any suggestion of introducing major-scale electronic voting to Australian elections. At this stage only the scanning and counting of votes should be done electronically – and the report says this needs expensive new technology.
“Cybersecurity experts have studied a wide range of US voting machines — including both touchscreens and optical scanners — and in every single case, they found severe vulnerabilities that would allow attackers to sabotage machines or alter votes,” he wrote.