The WA Electoral Commission (WAEC) has commenced work on a telephone-based voting system after the funding for its internet voting system was withdrawn by the Federal Government. WAEC IT manager, Desmond Chenik, told Computerworld Australia the full internet voting system it was scheduled to develop this year, for the blind and vision impaired along with the armed forces, had been put on hold after several months of work. According to Chenik, the WAEC has put in another request with the government for the funding but even if the request is approved later this year, the internet-based system would not be ready in time for the next state election in March 2013 (the state now has fixed four year election periods).
“It wouldn’t be ready for the next election as it would probably take 10 to 12 months of development work plus another few months of going through the design work again to make sure the technology hasn’t changed and we can’t do better or whatever. We had done three quarters of the design effort and were about to start the actual development phase when the funding was withdrawn.”
The telephone voting system, which was scheduled to come after the internet-based system as an add-on, will enable people to cast a secret vote from home via their telephone. However, the system’s use remains hinged on legislation and around how much leeway the government allows, Chenik said. “If they say we can have anybody use it, which I doubt as they’ll never say that, then it’ll be open to everybody.”