The Australian Electoral Commission will abolish 730 polling booths — about one in 10 — at the next federal election, partly due to the rapid growth in early voting, which has more than doubled since 2007. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers revealed to The Australian that he would scrap 253 polling places across NSW, 197 in Victoria, 133 in Queensland, 51 in South Australia, 44 in Western Australia, 38 in Tasmania, 10 in the ACT and four in the Northern Territory. Mr Rogers said the decision to close 730 of the 7697 polling booths used at the last election had come after an audit to make better use of staff and resources and also because the number of votes cast before election day has risen from 1.1 million in 2007 to 2.5 million in 2013.Full Article: Australian Electoral Commission to close 1 in 10 polling booths.
Australian Electoral Commission
Australia’s auditor general has warned the Australian Electoral Commission it failed to take “meaningful action” and follow a series of recommendations to more securely count votes in the lead-up to the 2013 election. On Wednesday the Australian National Audit Office released its third follow-up audit of the AEC after the 2013 federal election, in which 1,370 Western Australian Senate ballot papers were lost. The Senate election was required to be held again after a high court challenge and the AEC faced heavy criticism at the time. The latest audit found two years on the AEC has still not established procedures to fix a series of failings. The audit disclosed there are now 1.2 million Australians who are eligible to vote but have not been enrolled, and raised concerns over the AEC’s response to the electoral gaps. The report said “some useful work had been undertaken” to manage the electoral role, but there were “significant gaps in implementation action”.
Australia: Sex party to ‘vigorously’ appeal against Electoral Commission deregistration | The Guardian
The Australian Sex party will appeal against a decision by Australian Electoral Commission to deregister the party because it does not have enough members. The decision comes just months after the Victorian branch of the party won its first seat in the state’s upper house in November. The co-founder, Robbie Swan, said in a statement that the party would “vigorously” appeal against the decision which means the party will not be able to put its name on ballot papers at federal elections or receive commonwealth funding available to registered parties.Full Article: Sex party to 'vigorously' appeal against Electoral Commission deregistration | Australia news | The Guardian.
As many as 66,000 votes in the New South Wales state election 2015 could have been tampered with. The election was held on 28 March 2015 and is now closed. Voters used the iVote system which is described by its makers as “private, secure and verifiable” in its operation. Further, the Australian Electoral Commission insists that all Internet votes are and were “fully encrypted and safeguarded” at this time. The iVote system is a form of voting where eligible voters can vote over the Internet or telephone as an alternative to voting at a physical polling station. Security is provided using an 8-digit iVote number, a 6-digit PIN and a 12-digit receipt number for each individual. Australia is arguably a perfect test case for electronic voting with its vast distances that prevent some voters from getting to a polling location. A system like this also benefits the disabled and other less mobile voters. However, the system has been derided by non-profit digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), “The problem is that the system was not ready to be one of the biggest online voting experiments in the world.” EFF’s Farbod Faraji says that a FREAK flaw has been discovered in the Australian system by Michigan Computer Science Professor J Alex Halderman and University of Melbourne Research Fellow Vanessa Teague.Full Article: Votes gone walkabout after Australian election voting flaw - SC Magazine UK.
The nearly 1,400 Senate ballot slips that disappeared in Western Australia during the last federal election may have literally fallen off the back of a truck, says a federal parliamentary committee. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters lambasted the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in its final report into the 2013 federal election, describing the incident as “disastrous”. The inquiry handed down 24 recommendations, including that voters be required to show identification and — for the first time in almost a century — vote using a pen.Full Article: Missing Senate ballot boxes may have fallen off a truck, committee finds - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Australia: ‘Frankly, we don’t do it very well’: Australia Electoral Commission forced to change over WA poll | Sydney Morning Herald
The Australian Electoral Commission will outsource the storage of millions of used ballot papers, conceding its warehouse security and logistics chain is not up to task. The AEC has been forced to overhaul its processes after bungling the 2013 Senate election in Western Australia in which nearly 1400 voting papers were lost, causing the High Court to order a new poll at a cost of $23 million. Former Australia Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty called the AEC’s handling of the election a “disaster” and the-then electoral commissioner Ed Killesteyn later resigned. On Wednesday, new commissioner Tom Rogers told a parliamentary committee that the AEC would “completely outsource” its warehouse and logistics, including the transport of ballot papers to 8000 polling stations. “Frankly, we don’t do it very well,” he told the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.Full Article: 'Frankly, we don't do it very well': Australia Electoral Commission forced to change over WA poll.
Australia: No voters prosecuted despite 7000-plus cases of suspected voting fraud in the 2013 federal election | Sydney Morning Herald
Not a single person will be prosecuted for multiple voting at the 2013 federal election – even those who admitted to casting more than one ballot paper. Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said he was “disturbed” that of the nearly 8000 cases of suspected voting fraud passed to the Australian Federal Police, not a single case has been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Of the 7743 suspect cases referred to the AFP, just 65 were investigated and not one will progress to conviction. Mr Rogers told a Senate estimates committee that the file passed to the AFP included voters who had actually admitted to voting at more than one polling station and cases where the offence had been denied but there was supporting evidence that they had.Full Article: No voters prosecuted despite 7000-plus cases of suspected voting fraud in the 2013 federal election.
The Australian Electoral Commission appears to be taking tentative steps towards having electronic vote scanning and counting at the next general election. The Commission has called for requests for expressions of interest (REI) for companies to provide advice on ballot paper scanning and counting technology to use in the House of Representatives ballot in the 2016 general election but the technology would not be used widely, instead being run as a pilot project in a handful of polling booths. The REI is at pains to point out: “this is not a request for tender. The AEC intends to initiate a multi-stage procurement process for the required services. “The AEC would appreciate advice from the market regarding the minimum number of tabulators to provide a reasonable (cost effective) pilot.”Full Article: Electronic vote counting one step closer - Government News.
Thousands of Victorians cannot vote in this year’s state election because they have been deemed to have an “unsound mind”. You won’t find a definition for the term in either the federal Electoral Act or in any of its state and territory counterparts. But since the 2010 election, 7176 people have been removed from the state’s electoral roll for this reason, according to Australian Electoral Commission figures. Anyone who is eligible to vote can object to another person being on the roll if they believe they have an “unsound mind”. There are growing calls for the law around such objections to be scrapped to avoid discrimination. Victorian Electoral Commission spokeswoman, Sue Lang, said she was still receiving requests to remove people’s elderly relatives from the roll – usually people with dementia – days before the election.Full Article: Thousands of Victorians unable to vote because of 'unsound mind'.
Federal MPs and senators are passing on the cost of printing election-related material to the taxpayer in a practice once described as “double dipping” by the auditor general’s office. A Guardian Australia analysis of politicians’ entitlements shows that on average claims for printing and communications materials during an election campaign are twice as high as at other times. Funds are provided separately to parties for election campaigns via the Australian Electoral Commission, so using regular entitlements for campaign material may represent a double use of taxpayers’ funds that benefits incumbent politicians.Full Article: Politicians billing taxpayers twice for election campaign material | News | theguardian.com.
A working party has recommended online voting trials be conducted in New Zealand local body elections in 2016, but concluded broad availability is “not feasible” for that election round. The working party, established last September, was a a response to calls from the Justice and Electoral Committee of Parliament, some local authorities, Local Government New Zealand and the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers to conduct a trial of online voting for local authority elections. “We do not think that broad implementation of an online voting option in the 2016 local elections is feasible.” It was asked to consider the options, costs, and security issues involved in online voting and the feasibility of implementing it for New Zealand’s 2016 local elections. The working group decided a broad roll out is not feasible as the 2016 election will be the first real opportunity to conduct a trial of what could be relatively untested technology.Full Article: Working group nixes drive for online voting in 2016 | ZDNet.
The Australian Electoral Commission does not currently have the internal capability to test electronic voting at the next federal election, according to its acting chief Tom Rogers. In a hearing of the parliamentary committee investigating electoral matters today, Rogers said he was not confident the AEC had the capacity to roll out such a major reform. “I would be worried by any large-scale trial of electronic voting before the next election,” he told the committee. “We would not have the internal capability now to do that.”Full Article: AEC is 'not ready' for electronic voting - Strategy - News - iTnews.com.au.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) does not have the internal capabilities to safely carry out an e-voting trial prior to the next federal election, according to the acting Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers. Rogers, who spoke today at a parliamentary committee hearing investigating electoral matters, said that he was not confident the AEC could safely introduce electronic voting. “I’m concerned about our ability to introduce some form of electronic voting, safely,” he said. “We could introduce something, but we may end up back in a WA sort of situation if we’re not careful, in a short space of time. “I would be worried about any form large scale adoption before the next election, even a trial. We would not have the internal ability now to do that. We would have already had to have started that process,” he said. “I’m concerned, as the acting commissioner, about whether I can tell you faithfully that we can implement a safe solution.”Full Article: AEC warns against e-voting trial before next election | ZDNet.
Future federal elections should use electronic vote counting to improve the accuracy of results, the ACT Electoral Commission has said. A joint parliamentary committee has been considering election methods after almost 1,400 votes went missing in Western Australia during the federal election. The problems led to a fresh Senate poll being held in WA and the resignation of Australian electoral commissioner Ed Killesteyn. ACT electoral commissioner Phil Green told the committee there were miscounts in every division in Western Australia. “Hand counting and hand sorting by using humans alone is an error-prone thing,” he said. “I think if you look at the result of the recount in Western Australia you can see that hand counting even a single first preference on a ballot paper is something that human beings aren’t very good at, but computers are very good at it.”Full Article: ACT Electoral Commission proposes electronic vote counting for federal elections - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Australia: Government rejects Senate order to disclose Electoral Commission software code | Sydney Morning Herald
The government has rejected a Senate demand to disclose the Australian Electoral Commission’s secret computer code used to electronically count Senate preference votes. The motion, passed by the Senate last week, was prompted by the AEC’s refusal to comply with a freedom of information request made by digital activist Michael Cordover. He wanted to scrutinise the source code for the EasyCount application, but the AEC’s chief legal officer Paul Pirani instead declared him “vexatious”. The Senate motion, introduced by Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, called on Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson to table the source code, as well as correspondence and documents relevant to the decision to have Mr Cordover declared a “vexatious” applicant and the assertion he “colluded” with another activist to “harrass” the AEC. … Mr Ronaldson said the government would not table any documents or correspondence relating to Mr Cordover’s FOI request, because the matter would soon appear before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. He also refused to publish the source code for the Senate counting system.Full Article: Government rejects Senate order to disclose Electoral Commission software code.
Here’s an idea for streamlining our national elections. Once people have voted, how about we scoop up all the ballot papers, put them into a big sack, and hand it to a group of masked strangers? They take the sack away somewhere — somewhere secret, so no-one can interfere with them — and some time later they return and just tell us who won. I reckon it’d be cheaper and a lot less trouble for everyone than all this slow, manual counting in front of scrutineers, right? No? Don’t like it? Well, boys and girls, given that the Australian government is refusing to show us the source code for the Australian Electoral Commissions’s EasyCount software, that’s pretty much exactly how your votes for the Senate are being counted right now. Your Senate votes, the ones where you’ve carefully specified your preferences for dozens of candidates, go into the black box of EasyCount, magic happens, and out pops the result.Full Article: Government's voting source code secrecy is dumb and dangerous | ZDNet.
The Australian Electoral Commission has refused a Senate order to reveal the underlying source code of the EasyCount software used to tabulate votes in upper house elections. A motion moved by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon on 10 July directed Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson to table the source code as well as correspondence between Ronaldson’s office and the AEC relating to a freedom of information request for the source code. In October, following the fraught outcome of the Senate election in WA, Hobart lawyer Michael Cordover filed a freedom of information application with the AEC requesting the release of the source code and documentation of any data formats used by the software. The AEC rejected the FOI application, citing section 45 of the FOI Act, which exempts “documents that disclose trade secrets”.Full Article: Electoral Commission bucks Senate on voting source code - Computerworld.
The Australian Electoral Commission says it has improved its security and procedures to ensure that no votes go missing in Saturday’s re-run of the WA Senate election. The election is being held again after results from last September’s Senate election were declared void when about 1,400 ballots disappeared during a vote re-count. AEC spokesman Phil Diak said the commission had re-examined all of its security procedures in the wake of the vote loss and subsequent inquiries into it by former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Keelty and a joint parliamentary committee.Full Article: Australian Electoral Commission promises upgraded procedures for re-run WA Senate election - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
he Australian Electoral Commission failed to adequately respond to warnings about the transport and storage of ballot papers made years before the West Australian Senate debacle. An Australian National Audit Office report into the security of ballots during last year’s federal election is scathing of the AEC, saying it failed to react to recommendations made in 2010. The AEC has been under fire over its botched handling of the poll; the loss of 1370 ballot papers forced a fresh WA Senate vote in April. The 2010 audit by the audit office found the AEC needed to improve the security of ballot papers during transport and storage.Full Article: Electoral commission failed to heed warnings about ballot paper security | World news | theguardian.com.
Australia: Dozens to recast vote due to ballot box problem in Western Australia Senate election | ABC
Dozens of people at an aged care facility in Perth will have to vote again in the WA Senate election re-run because of a problem with a ballot box. The latest voting bungle comes despite the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) promising improved security and counting procedures. The election re-run is being held because 1,370 votes were lost in the September poll and the High Court declared the election void. The AEC has now investigated the handling of about 75 ballot papers cast earlier this week at the Merriwa Estate RAAF retirement village in Perth’s northern suburbs.Full Article: WA Senate election: Dozens to recast vote due to ballot box problem - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).