The ACT is the only Australian jurisdiction to make extensive use of electronic voting. All pre-poll voting centres use electronic voting equipment, though paper ballots are available for the technology challenged. The six pre-poll voting centres are also used as election day polling places with electronic voting available. In all 20% of votes at the 2008 election were recorded electronically. A total of 43,820 electronic votes were recorded, though only 42,668 were formal votes. The rate of informal and discarded electronic ballots was 2.6% compared to 4% for paper ballots. The electronic voting system guides voters through the numbering sequence, so you cannot make a mistake filling in your ballot paper without being prompted that you have made an error. This means that an informal electronic vote is a deliberate informal, as a voter cannot vote informal without over-ridding the warning message.
Of the 42,668 formal electronic ballots, 6,940 were cast on election day and 35,728 were electronic pre-poll votes. Electronic pre-poll ballots are transferred to the ACT Electoral Commission head office at the close of pre-poll voting on Friday and are submitted to the electronic councting process at 6pm on election night.
The tallies of electronic pre-poll votes are fed through to the media and to the Electoral Commission’s website in several batches in the hour after the close of polls. As the ACT has no small polling places, and as it takes time to count the randomised ACT paper ballots, no polling places results are received before 7pm. The electronic pre-poll totals are the early guide to the final result.