Electronic voting to debut this election

Accessibility gains to be trialled with the vision impaired

This year's federal election will be the first to engage electronic voting when blind or vision impaired people will be able to vote at 29 locations across Australia.

The Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, said the trial will be a first for electronically assisted voting at the federal level.

"This is a trial that the government strongly supports to enable people who are blind or vision impaired to have the opportunity for a secret vote," Nairn said.

"Electronic voting will be available for two weeks in the lead up to, and on election day, in 29 electorates."

The locations were selected by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) after a consultation process with relevant peak bodies and service organizations around Australia and an examination of potential locations, according to Nairn.

The AEC will demonstrate the electronic voting machines at each location before the election to aid vision impaired people and local support groups.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said the system provides electronic assistance in the casting of the vote, which is then printed out and placed in a declaration envelope.

"Counting is done manually the same as any other pre-poll vote," the spokesperson said.

As reported by Computerworld, the AEC has had an e-voting infrastructure in place for a number of years, but it is too busy modernizing its core applications to push ahead with a large-scale electronic voting deployment.

The electronic voting machines used this year will not be available to people who are sighted.

Vision impaired voters not near a site involved in the trial have the option of casting an assisted vote at a polling place on election day, or casting an early vote at a pre-poll voting centre or by post.

The 29 electronic voting locations are spread among all six states and two territories.

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Rodney Gedda

Computerworld
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