We’ve been doing electronic banking, taxes, Medicare claims and Centrelink benefits online, but are we ready for electronic voting?
When it comes to voting, the nation remains rooted in the long held tradition to cast a vote – pencil and paper.
Some people think that it’s about time we have electronic voting as it will enable those with mobility issues or even Australians abroad to perform their duties much easier. And not to mention, the schools and community halls can finally be left alone.
Electronic voting would also diminish the need for paper and pencil and transporting all those ballots which technically could lead to cost saving.
And with everything online, missing ballots could be avoided like the 2013 WA Senate election incident where 1,370 ballot papers went missing.
“We live in an age where we do data collection, we do polling, anyway, for other systems and it’s nothing new,” said Frank Reilly from Arcadia in New South Wales to ABC.
“What I can’t understand, and what a lot of other people I talk to can’t understand, is why we don’t have it for voting,” said Frank who suspects there’s a political motive.
“It’s almost as though the major parties would be frightened to see the real results,” he said.
Currently, at the federal level there is only one form of electronic voting – the assisted telephone system for blind or low vision voters.
But has electronic voting been considered at least?
Apparently, e-voting has been on the Australian Electoral Commission’s radar for years and has also been considered by our Parliamentarians after every federal election since 2001.
In fact, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters held 20 hearings and reviewed more than 200 submissions, before deciding Australia should stick to its largely paper based system.
Although the AEC has moved very cautiously with electronic voting, it has trialled electronic voting for the blind and vision impaired, for Defence and Federal Police personnel overseas, and for Australians living in the Antarctic.
And the trials during the 2007 election were not cheap, they costed us over $4 million, with the average cost per vote cast of $2,597 for electronically assisted voting for blind and low vision electors, and $1,159 for remote voting for selected defence force personnel. This, compared with an average cost per elector of $8.36.
Some people think that trusting the most fundamental element of our political process to the internet plain risky, leaving it to face the rick of hacking and not to mention unreliable internet connection.
A member of the public, Hilda Johnson said, “How can we trust online voting when we can’t even keep our bank accounts safe?”