How Do We Vote


AustraliaVotes

It seems highly likely that Western Australia will vote again for the Senate. In a close election the loss of over 1000 ballots between the primary count and the recount has thrown the result into a position where the result cannot be argued, but is essentially unreliable and untenable.

The Electoral office has no confidence in the result and has sought a ruling from the Court of Disputed Returns to send the West back to the poles. Most of us find this incredible, after all this is 21st Century Australia.

There are a significant range of vulnerabilities with the current system, and in identifying those vulnerabilities I don’t think any of us would have identified the Australian Electoral Commission losing over 100 ballots as one of those vulnerabilities. I think that this clearly calls us to think about the system of voting, to see if we could not do it better.

The candidates, and indeed the electorate has the right to have confidence in a fair, even correct result.

It seems that there are a number of problems that have been identified.

  1. A Result we can rely on. The estimate for the return to the polls for the half senate in Western Australia is $5 million dollars. (That I gather is the administrative cost, not the cost of the party campaigns.
  2. Timeliness of the result. Two months after the election after recounts we have an untenable outcome.
  3. The current system of of reporting to a polling booth and promising that you have not already voted in the election, does not do anything to resolve people who want to vote more than once.
  4. The failure to have any realistic identity check means that all you need is a name and an address to lodge a vote.
  5. The ballots are marked in pencil, which seems reasonably insecure.
  6. The online enrollment, whilst very desirable may have resulted in a possibility to people enrolling without the appropriate clarity of identity and right to vote.

Clive Palmer has suggested that electronic voting would be a significant improvement.

  1. The count for such a system would likely considerably more accurate.
  2. The timeliness of the result should be resolved with a result in minutes rather than weeks.
  3. Centralized rolls and electronic voting would seemingly resolve the reliance on people telling the truth about not having already voted.
  4. There may well be some methods to ensure that people can be identified correctly is important,
  5. Electronic ballots could be tested for validity before submission to ensure that people do not vote informally by accident. We have a right to vote informally, however pointless that may be, however different voting rules at Federal and State elections has made the rise in informal voting may well be accidental.
  6. We need to manage the security issues both with registration and with ballots. There will be no value in an electronic system it the results are no more tenable than the current system.

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Interestingly I watch a little of Parliament the other day, when the was a point of order raised, and the Speaker called to result and was challenged for a division, to observe the nation parliament grind to a halt what we range the bells for four minutes, and then passed to the left and the right, appointed tellers and then counted the result, which was predictable and on party lines, and underlined that the Speak was correct. roughly 300 people and 30 minutes 150 people hours, at say $100.00 per hour. $15000 for a point of order or no value. Maybe the house could benefit from electronic voting, and they could just sit in their office and punch the appropriate button when required.

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