Tuesday, 05 July 2016 08:50

AIIA says electronic voting makes a lot of sense Featured

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Australia would save both money and time if it turned to electronic voting, the Australian Information Industry Association, the nation's peak body for the technology industry, claims.

AIIA chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick said the federal election in 2010 had cost $160 million. In 2013, this cost had risen to $193 million.

Fitzpatrick said the manual voting process was both expensive and inefficient.

"With electronic voting in place, we would have known the results of our election minutes after the polls closed on Saturday, and everyone could get on with their jobs. And the election itself would have cost a lot less money to run," he said.

iTWire ran an opinion piece yesterday, making similar arguments.

Electronic voting could be done either through booths at polling stations, over the Internet, or by using mobile phone apps.

Fitzpatrick said that whatever was invested in an electronic voting system would return savings soon.

"...the government should be on the front foot of innovation and change. With the technology available today, electronic voting makes so much sense. Why spend valuable taxpayer funds on this 19th century practice when that money could be put to far better use?" he questioned.

Fitzpatrick claimed that electronic voting systems would increase the level of integrity and security in the voting process.

He said some inroads had been made with electronically assisted voting (EAV) at voting centres in Victorian state elections since 2006.

"In NSW state elections, a remote electronic voting system known as iVote was introduced in 2011 and is available to electors who are blind, have reading difficulties or other disabilities, live more than 20km from a polling booth, or will be interstate or overseas on election day. In the 2015 NSW elections, iVote received 283,669 votes, making it the biggest politically binding on-line election to-date.

"New South Wales and Victoria have shown us that electronic voting can work. It's now time to take what they've learned and apply it on a larger scale throughout Australia," Fitzpatrick said. "All Brazilian elections have been fully electronic since 2000, and countries like India and Estonia have electronic voting on a large scale, so we know it can be done."

Among the AIIA's top priorities for the next government is digital transformation so that the country can be competitive globally. Its other priorities are transforming Australia’s talent and skills base, business adoption of digital technology, and fast rollout of the NBN and 5G.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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