Poles apart for online polls

by David Everton

Published on
July 1, 2016

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It is 2016. We have cars that drive themselves. We have internet-connected water bottles that track our consumption via smartphone app. Via an online order you can even send your enemies an envelope loaded with glitter.

So in the digital age, why are we still voting in person and with paper? And have you seen how big the Senate ballot is? A new system of voting on the bigger and unwieldy Senate ballot has required its own campaign strategy and led to even more confusion.

Surely a digital voting system would create better engagement with the younger, more technology-savvy generations who are often said to be uninterested in politics.

There are three reasons why Australia hasn’t adopted an online voting system:

  1. The system might not be secure;
  2. The code might not be correct; and
  3. If something goes wrong, we may never know.

The reason most of us will be voting in person this weekend is because the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has ruled out allowing Australians to cast their vote online for the sake of reputation management, arguing it risks “catastrophically compromising our electoral integrity”.

It is currently impossible to provide evidence of an accurate result while keeping individual online votes private. If you received a confirmation of how you voted, it wouldn’t be anonymous – but if you don’t get a confirmation, you will never know if your vote was correctly received.

However, if community consultation was taken on whether people would prefer to spend hours out of their precious Saturday to stand in line, or spend five minutes on their own device from the comfort of their own home, I’m pretty sure I know what the result would be.

Think you have the solution? Do you believe in four years we will have caught up with the pace of technology when it comes to voting?