Why Australia needs to embrace electronic voting

If every Australian cast their vote electronically on Saturday during the drawn-out Federal Election 2016, the nation would already know the outcome.

Malcolm Turnbull - Prime Minister

Malcolm Turnbull - Prime Minister

If every Australian cast their vote electronically on Saturday during the drawn-out Federal Election 2016, the nation would already know the outcome.

That's the view of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), which slams the current voting as "extraordinarily inefficient and expensive."

"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,” AIIA chief executive, Rob Fitzpatrick, said.

According to Australia’s peak body for the technology industry, in addition to time and cost savings, electronic voting would increase the integrity and security of the voting process.

During 2013, the cost of the Federal Election reached $193 million, while 2010 totalled $160 million.

“With the technology available today, electronic voting makes so much sense," Fitzpatrick said. "Why spend valuable taxpayer funds on this 19th century practice when that money could be put to far better use?”

Additionally, an electronic voting system called iVote was introduced in NSW in 2011, designed for electors who are blind, live more than 20km away from a polling booth or will be interstate or overseas on election day.

Bill Shorten - Leader, Labor Party
Bill Shorten - Leader, Labor Party

In the 2015 NSW elections, iVote received 283,669 votes, making it the biggest politically binding online election to date.

“The iVote initiative is probably the most significant change that we’ve seen in the electoral processes in the last 100 years," NSW electoral commissioner, Colin Barry, added.

In line with Barry, Fitzpatrick said that NSW and Victoria have shown the country that electronic voting can work.

"It’s now time to take what they’ve learned and apply it on a larger scale throughout Australia," he added.

"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.”

In 2013, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his previous role as federal communications spokesman, claimed that electronic voting would reduce the "big issue" of informal ballots.

In the past, the Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, also confirmed his support of electronic voting.

In 2014, in the leadup to the Senate re-run in Western Australia, Shorten argued e-voting to be a "no-brainer".

"If we do our banking online, why can’t we vote online?" Shorten added. "We need to be doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible to take part in the democratic process so everyone has their say."

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Tags AustraliaMalcolm TurnbullAIIAnswVictoriaBill ShortenivoteRob FitzpatrickFederal Election 2016Colin BarryElectronically Assisted Voting (EAV)

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