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Australia Politics Technology

Electronic Voting To Enter Australian House of Representatives 42

The federal government has announced electronic voting will be introduced into the Parliament of Australia, with Leader of the House of Representatives Christopher Pyne confirming it will be implemented in the lower house next year. From a report: "The implementation of electronic voting will reduce significantly the time required for each vote in the chamber," Pyne said. "Voting outcomes will be transparent, accurate, and known immediately, freeing up more time for important parliamentary business to be conducted each day the house sits. Electronic voting will also provide an electronic solution for recording division voting and improve online accessibility to division process and results," he added. While the details are scarce at this stage, Pyne said the Department of Parliamentary Services will shortly call for tenders for the project, also giving "innovative" businesses and individuals an opportunity to contribute.
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Electronic Voting To Enter Australian House of Representatives

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  • I'm not overly familiar with Australia's system, but I had thought that it was parliamentary, which almost always has voting along coalition lines. In the U.S. voting is also typically along party lines, but you occasionally have some blue dog Democrats or Republicans from the North East that will vote against the line on some issues.

    However, I think this is where the open source community should look to get involved. One of the chief complains about electronic voting systems is an inability to audit the
    • However, I think this is where the open source community should look to get involved. One of the chief complains about electronic voting systems is an inability to audit the system to ensure that it truly is accurate and fair.

      Oh, please. This is a limited access system with a small, well-defined set of potential voters, each of whom can be vetted and identified, and who can look at the results to see if the system recorded their vote properly. It's not a "secret vote" system, and every such system I've seen in the US (for states, e.g.) has a large board with lights by each member's name showing how they voted.

      This ain't the place to rant for open source because of transparency and some need to make sure it is fair. Nobody is go

      • by Anonymous Coward

        US House of Representatives has had this since at least 1990, when I got to sit on the floor of the chamber I saw it. They had an ID card the put into a little box (boxes all over the chamber) and could pick yes, no, or present. At the time they had to be in the chamber to cast a vote and the offices got a 15 minute warning before a vote period ended. Should take less than 10 minutes to get there from any of the office buildings. All these votes were public, the held a voice vote if they wanted voters a

    • Re:Australian System (Score:5, Informative)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2018 @02:30PM (#56694452)

      One of the chief complains about electronic voting systems is an inability to audit the system to ensure that it truly is accurate and fair.

      No. This is nonsense.

      It is trivial to design a voting system that is fair and can be audited for accuracy. It is also easy to design a system with secret ballots. It is only hard to design a voting system that has BOTH.

      Since this is an open ballot, with full transparency of who voted for what, accurate vote counting is not an issue.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        One of the chief complains about electronic voting systems is an inability to audit the system to ensure that it truly is accurate and fair.

        No. This is nonsense.

        It is trivial to design a voting system that is fair and can be audited for accuracy. It is also easy to design a system with secret ballots. It is only hard to design a voting system that has BOTH.

        Since this is an open ballot, with full transparency of who voted for what, accurate vote counting is not an issue.

        It is difficult to make an electronic system that is near invulnerable to tampering. That is the main complaint.

        Given how competent Australian Government IT projects have been in the past this will likely be outsourced to the cheapest bidder who will then run millions over budget in cost over-runs (Govt contracts are license to bill), fail to deliver any milestones on time and when the money tap is finally closed off, turn tail and run leaving the Govt with an incomplete and useless system (QLD health, a

        • It is difficult to make an electronic system that is near invulnerable to tampering. That is the main complaint.

          The Australian house of representatives has 150 voting members, each having been elected by their districts. These members are officially enrolled in the house and known to everyone else involved. The votes they cast are public, open, and on the record. The results can be displayed in real-time, by person and as a total. When Rep. A enters his vote electronically, it will be displayed next to his name, and not only can he see what the system records, but so can everyone else in his party or coalition.

          If s

          • by mjwx ( 966435 )

            Explain how any "tampering" would go undetected for more than, say, 30 seconds, and why any evidence of failure to operate properly could not cause an immediate reversion to the existing system?

            Because no-one checks.

            You've clearly never met an MP. The barely ever check on what they've voted, if it were changed by subterfuge it could go undetected for months. Many don't even check their own email, they have staff to do that. I know one Western Australian Minister who doesn't even use a computer, staff print his emails, he writes a response in pen and the staff write the reply as the Hon. T**** *****n, so keeping a changed vote secret simply means going to the staffer who monitors their communica

            • Because no-one checks.

              Oh, be real. Of course someone checks. It's done in public, right where everyone can see.

              Many don't even check their own email, they have staff to do that.

              So not only will they see how their vote was recorded AS IT IS CAST, and the party leaders who track who votes what way, and the other party members who are also voting, their staff will be able to see. So more people who can check, not less.

              And then just think of the costs, every detected error will need to be investigated,

              Oh my. If something breaks it has to be fixed. The horrors.

              If you cant imagine how difficult it is to secure an electronic system from abuse, it is because you are insufficiently imaginative.

              If you think electronic voting on such a small scale with such a limited audience is going to be a successful target for

    • Just because parties traditionally vote across party or coalition lines doesn't mean the entire practice of voting is moot. The phrase you will often hear is "crossing the floor". Worse still as the country goes from hung parliament to hung parliament a lot of decisions are actually down to independents, or minority parties like the greens, one nation, or unaffiliated.

  • What could possibly go wrong?
    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Even better: The second generation will know the election results before the voters even cast their ballots!

    • What could possibly go wrong?

      Not much. Because the Lower House consists of only 150 MPs, and each vote is on the public record in real time. Unlike a private ballot , any tampering would be evident immediately.
      If the entire system stopped working they can immediately go back to the old way of manually voting by walking across the room.

  • With today's communications technology, are legislative chambers obsolete? Are the minds of any politicians changed on chamber floors, or should we instead film and publish records of where decisions are actually made (meetings in offices), and where productive, open, and non-partisan information exposure still occurs (committee hearings)? Are chambers still needed for some nation-binding rhetorical shows, such as those relating to crises and commemoration?
  • online vote = vote at work the bosses way or fired!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is not about voting in elections, it's about voting in the house of representatives.

      "Vote at work the bosses way or fired" may well be true, but only the same way it's always been true. There's no secret ballot in parliament.

    • online vote = vote at work the bosses way or fired!

      a) illegal.
      b) this isn't online.
      c) completley irrelevant given what we're talking about here is not voting for government, but government voting.

  • This is probably less complex (and hence safer from tampering) than citizen electronic vote, as parliament member vote is public.

    Hence it is extremely simple for someone to check its own vote, and to make sure no fake voter has been added. The only risk I see is casting a fake vote for an absent parliament member: presence log has to be kept by a different system to spot that.

    • This is probably less complex (and hence safer from tampering) than citizen electronic vote, as parliament member vote is public.

      Hence it is extremely simple for someone to check its own vote, and to make sure no fake voter has been added. The only risk I see is casting a fake vote for an absent parliament member: presence log has to be kept by a different system to spot that.

      The proposal includes a live scoreboard inside the House, and voting is via the MP's personal swipe card, so any improper votes would be immediately visible.

  • Yay, electronic voting now gives the already vacant MPâ(TM)s further excuse to not be present in parliament to vote.

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