Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants some voting to be online for the 2022 local body election as turnout around the country fades.
In the country’s biggest local election, voting returns for Auckland Council have reached just 17 per cent, lagging behind 2016s turnout at this same stage, and in Wellington voting is also slower.
Local body elections are conducted using postal voting, with the postal system gradually declining and deliveries no longer daily in urban areas.
Having postal voting as the main voting method for local body elections is stupid. The postal system is dying in the Internet age. It’s like insisting people have to use a horse and buggy instead of a car.
“We need to see at least the beginning of online voting in my view, and I have held that view for some time,” Ardern told Stuff in an interview.
The PM has the right view. And online voting doesn’t have to be a website, which gets all the security boffins clenching their buttocks. It can be as simple as you still get your voting papers in the post, but can photograph them on your smartphone, and e-mail them to the returning officer. Just use the Internet to deliver the vote, not to store and count them.
And if you think that is insecure, I have really bad news for you. We already do it for parliamentary elections. Around 70,000 overseas voters delivered their votes via the Internet in 2017.
“There is strong support for online voting with 74 per cent of Aucklanders telling us after the 2016 election that they would prefer to vote online,” Mayor Phil Goff told Stuff in 2018.
Auckland would be a great city to trial online voting in as you could compare turnout stats in areas that use it to those which do not.