Online Voting

May 12th, 2008 at 10:08 am by David Farrar

With all the boldness of a very slow turtle, the Chief Electoral Office is talking of trialling online voting in 2014, 2017 and 2020 with a possible implementation in 2023.

I absolutely support a trial before any decisions are made on implementation, but online voting has been discussed and trialled globally since 1996. An 18 year wait until we even trial it is manifestly inadequate.

The 2010 local body elections represent a superb opportunity to trial online voting. As they already use postal voting, there is less of a culture change. You merely include a username and password with their voting letter, and maybe have them get a one time PIN e-mailed to them also.

Now you don’t have to trial it with every local body. Just choose a couple where it really doesn’t matter if the system breaks down – say the Ruapahu District Council.

Online voting has the potential to increase turnout but also increase informed voting. One can have candidates linked to their election pages so people can read about them just before they vote. And considering we have a zero level of security at the moment for voting, online voting can only be more secure. Now again I am not saying rush in and have online voting for 2011 general election, but at a minimum it should be trialled for some 2010 local body elections.

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24 Responses to “Online Voting”

  1. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    At most it will increase turnout among people who can’t be bothered to fill in a form or go to a polling place. People who don’t care enough to do that aren’t likely to be properly informed. They’re still entitled to vote but we don’t need to make it even easier for them. And online voting may lead to corruption and will certainly lead to unsubstantiated allegations of corruption.

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  2. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    Agree with DPF. Nigel, the people you seem to be writing off make up more than 50% of the electorate. And DPF gave an answer to the information argument – if you clicked through to a few of the candidates you’d have more information than about 90% of the people who vote in local body elections today.

    As to corruption – you mean as opposed to mailing out forms to people that absolutely anyone can grab and use with no need to show any id at all? I’m pretty sure a 15 year old kid with two years of computer studies at high school could design a system that was more secure than that.

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  3. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    PaulL, re corruption – I think it’s the risk of centralised, orchestrated corruption that is more of an issue. There are plenty of events of the last decade that point to voter manipulation. Can’t be much of a step to believe that vote manipulation could be experienced. That said, I do believe the risks are manageable, so long as we have a truly independent body (aka free from political manipulation) overseeing the integrity of the process.

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  4. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    DPF, I am sure the residents of Ruapehu District Council would be interested to hear your explanation as to why their representation ‘doesn’t matter’.

    [DPF: Oh it matters to them I am sure. Just not to me :-)]

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  5. Gerrit (107 comments) says:

    As in all electronic voting systems (be it online or voting machines in polling booths) the software required to run them plus do the additions needs to be open source so all and sundry can see if there is vote count manipulation going on.

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  6. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    DPF, perhaps we should do our trial in Wellington instead? After all, it matters to you, just not to them. :-)

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  7. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    Too open to fraud for my liking.

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  8. RRM (9,915 comments) says:

    I believe Jeb Bush was quite keen on this sort of technology…

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  9. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    Interesting really. When we talk about tightening up registration rules and identity rules around the national elections, the left don’t really like it. Because tightened rules at the national level depress the vote for the left (apparently they are too stupid to remember to bring their driver’s license or other id with them when they vote).

    But when we talk about local body elections, the left are all for tight rules. Because the right can’t be bothered to vote if you make it hard.

    Self interest goes a long way guys, doesn’t it?

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  10. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Too open to fraud for my liking.”

    Definiton of ‘fraud’- every time the left loose an election.

    What was it your mentor said- “its not who votes, its who counts the votes.”

    ..and of course, if there are in fact no real irregularities, allegations will do just as well…

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  11. RRM (9,915 comments) says:

    “Definiton of ‘fraud’- every time the left loose an election.”

    Yeah that’s it. You really saw right through that one!

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  12. freethinker (691 comments) says:

    DPF

    After the problems and allegations of corruption that surrounded the use of the Diebold system in the US open source has to be a must but how do you ensure that those who issue the pins cannot later retrieve the votes and then use the knowledge against those who voted against the encumbent. Without an absolute and demonstrable system of secure privacy, internet voting may reduce voting even further, possibly to the point were the credible legitamacy of the elected is questionable?

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  13. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    freethinker: nobody would be forced to use internet voting. If you don’t trust it, don’t use it. The diebold furore was mostly manufactured, the machines themselves worked, there were theoretical security holes. It was mostly a political beat up. Compared to the lack of accuracy that the manual machines had, the electronic ones were brilliant. Just not perfect.

    Strictly speaking, at the moment the government can recover all votes and who cast them. How else do you think they find your vote to remove it when it is found that you have voted twice? The important bit is to make sure the sheeple don’t know you can do it, not whether you can do it or not.

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  14. Frank (320 comments) says:

    Incredible n this year of technology, the Electoral Commission has subsituted “Carrier Pigeon ” for “Pony Express”. Most pigeons are shot down in flight by e-mails.

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  15. Pascal (1,969 comments) says:

    I’m thinking of:

    * the Labour Party rigging online polls
    * their affiliated unions distributing electioneering material
    * their “affiliated” student unions rigging online polls
    * their substandard, under-the-counter hosting deals for propaganda purposes
    * the theft of almost a million dollars of tax-payer funding for electioneering
    * the retrospective legislation
    * former Labour party ministers and their allegedly corrupt actions
    * a “confused” party president
    * a leader that sits in the “backseat”
    * a leader that “hasn’t been briefed”
    * the demonization of minority religious groups for political benefit
    * the Electoral Finance Act
    * the subsequent breaches of the Electoral Finance Act by the Labour Party
    * not in the public interest to prosecute

    and I’m wondering if online voting is such a great idea. The Labour Party will stop at nothing to win an election. Nothing. Of course, nothing prevents them from rigging an election now and they certainly tried to last election, but damnit, why make it easier for them?

    Sure, I’d love to vote online as it would avoid all the queues on election day. But I just don’t trust that corrupt bunch at all. They will do something.

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  16. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    “your mentor”

    Henrik Larrson said that?

    Fancy.

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  17. big bruv (13,880 comments) says:

    I never thought I would say this but I agree with Sonic, you just cannot trust this govt with on line voting and you sure as hell cannot trust a PM who is on record as saying she will do “whatever it takes”
    We also know that their supporters are on record as saying that it does not matter if they cheat just as long as they stay in power.

    Labour have already lied about hosting (and probably funding) the standard so rigging an on line election would not be something they would have any problem with.

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  18. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    IMHO forget on line voting First we need every citizen to pass and IQ test and a political knowledge test Other wise you have the dumb and the uninformed voting A toxic combination.

    Then to safeguard against t6he Socialists and Communists who have a habit of voting early and voting often every voter should be branded sfter casting their vote.

    This would result in the RIGHT and I do mean RIGHT outcome.

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  19. virtualmark (1,523 comments) says:

    Personally I’m not sure what’s so broken with the current system that it says we need to move to online voting. On the whole I think our paper-based ballot works very very well – certainly it delivers results as quickly as the Diebold disasters in the United States have shown

    But, I think we should look to improve the current system with changes like:
    (1) Every voter has to provide photo ID when they collect their ballot papers.
    (2) All polling booths are linked electronically so that multiple-voting is detected immediately … when you front at the polling booth you should have to show your photo ID which is then “ticked off” on an electronic version of the electoral roll.

    Those seem to be simple to implement changes that would tighten some of the potential vote manipulation problems and set some of the initial groundwork for any eventual move to electronic voting.

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  20. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    “we need every citizen to pass and IQ test”

    Isn’t it noble for gd to sacrifice his own vote for the greater good!

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  21. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    gd says:

    First we need every citizen to pass and IQ test and a political knowledge test Other wise you have the dumb and the uninformed voting A toxic combination…

    Well when promoting online voting I have suggested, with my tongue only partially in my cheek, that one of the benefits could be that after verifying their identity the voter would first have to answer some multiple choice non-partisan questions about NZ’s government and political system before being taken to the page where they could vote :-D

    But you’re right, gd. And in all seriousness I’ve always believed that if we can move more political debate and information into the online world we’ve got a better chance of educating the populace. If you’re going to vote online, you’re more likely to turn to online sources for your information. Okay they’re not all the bastion of reason and accuracy that Kiwiblog represents, but if someone of average intelligence spent one lunch time here and the next over at The Standard, they’d probably be better informed than the average TV news watcher.

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