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Organisation : Northern Territory Electoral Commission Australia
Facility : Electronic Voting
Territory : Northern Territory
Country : Australia
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NTEC Electronic Voting

There has been significant public interest on the issue of electronic voting. The term ‘electronic voting’ is broadly used to describe a range of technologies and practices that can facilitate the act of voting. While some of these options require internet, many do not.

Related : NTEC Australia Find My Electoral Area :

Electronic voting options that require internet include; remote internet voting, postal voting using email, and internet voting. Options that do not require internet include; telephone voting, kiosk voting and electronic voting machines at polling stations.

Options For Using

Electronic voting options fall under two broad categories: electronic voting that requires internet and electronic voting that does not.

Types Of Electronic Voting Without Internet

1. Voters cast their vote using computer equipment located at polling places
** This option requires a special computer application to be developed.
** Each polling station has several computer work stations.
** The computers are configured as stand-alone devices or connected on an isolated local area network, but not linked to the broader internet.
** There are a range of possible technical options for how such a voting system operates.
** One option is to provide voters with a swipe card when their name is marked off the roll by a polling official.
** The swipe card activates the computer system and at the end of voting, all results are sent to a central location for collating.

2. Electronic voting using touch screens located at polling places
** This option operates in the same way as option 1.
** The main difference is the electronic voting machine operates using a touch screen.
** This enables voters to vote by selecting candidates in order of preference.
** For instance, the first candidate name touched is the voters first preference, the second candidate name touched is the second preference, and so on.

3. Telephone voting assisted by an operator
** This system has already been used for blind and low-vision voters.
** The voter registers to use the telephone system and is provided with a de-identified registration number.
** The voter uses these details to telephone into the system and is transferred to an operator who records the vote.

4. Telephone voting by following the computer generated prompts
** This option requires the voter to use a telephone or mobile device to cast their vote.
** A pre-recorded voice prompts the voter to select from the options of each question, one question at a time, using the touch tone dial pad.
** Once all choices are confirmed, the results are encrypted and stored anonymously.
** The voter is then issued a receipt and prohibited from voting again in the election.

5. Kiosk voting
** This option involves setting up temporary electronic voting machines in high traffic locations, including shopping centres, supermarkets and main streets.
** At the end of voting, all results are sent to a central location for collating.

Types Of Electronic Voting With Internet

1. Voters cast their vote at polling stations using internet
** This option requires a voting website to be developed.
** Each polling station has a number of computer work stations.
** The computers are configured to automatically access the relevant internet page.
** Voters are then able to use this page to cast their vote.

2. Mobile internet voting
This option requires the electoral authority to organise mobile polling teams to travel to certain locations with portable devices that are connected to the internet. Voters would be able to use these devices to cast their vote.

3. Remote internet voting
** This option allows voters to vote from any device with internet access.
** This includes smart phones, tablets, desktop computers etc.
** It requires a special computer application to be developed and maintained.

4. Postal voting using email
This system is already used in Tasmania for remote and overseas voters. Voters receive their ballot paper and special declaration form via email. Voters then return their completed forms to the Electoral Commission as either a scanned image or clear photograph attached to an email.

Advantages Of Electronic Voting

Electronic voting may remedy some issues that exist with the current system of voting. It is important to note, the extent to which these issues are reduced or resolved will largely depend upon the model of electronic voting that is implemented, and in some cases, the number of voters who are able to use it.

1. Accessible voting for individuals with a disability :
** Voters who may have difficulties using the traditional method of paper ballot voting include people with disabilities, particularly voters who are blind or have low vision.
** To facilitate voting for these individuals, several systems have been trialled and implemented.
** These include braille template for ballot papers, magnifiers and closed-circuit magnifiers, electronic voting machines with headphones and voice prompts, and call centre voting.

** While feedback from those who trialled these methods has varied, there is a strong consensus among the blind and low vision community that electronic voting machines, unlike other methods, are best equipped to assist individuals in the casting of a vote that is both independent and secret.

** Another benefit of electronic voting machines is the ability for individuals to verify that their preferences have been lodged correctly.
** This is of particular use to individuals who are not able to cast their own vote due to a lack of computer ability or disability.
** An electronic voting machine will enable the individual to listen to the preferences that have been lodged on their behalf before confirming and casting the ballot.
** This verification process eliminates any uncertainty as to whether the polling official has completed the ballot according to the voter’s instructions.

2. Reducing the logistical burden associated with the manual paper ballot process :
** The current election process is a complicated logistical operation.
** It must be carried out under time constraint, follow a prescribed process, and be able to accommodate Northern Territory’s entire adult voting population.
** In doing so, a significant amount of materials and resources is required.

3. Voters living in remote locations :
** The broad geographic spread of the Northern Territory population has made it difficult to set-up and staff polling stations in many remote locations.
** Postal voting is one way this is addressed, but it also presents its own challenges.
** Transit delays and strict legislative timeframes means that voting material has been received or returned too late to be counted.
** Postal voting also requires voters to simply trust their vote has been counted and not interfered with.
** Implementing a system of remote internet voting may ensure voting is both viable and accessible to individuals living in remote locations.
** Most people these days have access to internet.
** By removing time delays associated with physically receiving, returning and counting postal votes, individuals can be assured their vote has been counted.
** The ease of internet voting may improve voter turnout.
** This is of particular importance in the Northern Territory where voter turnout is 10% to 20% below the national average of 90%.
** This number is lower still in remote locations.

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