Australians wont be using computers to vote in federal elections any time soon. That’s because it’s believed that it’s still not secret enough or as secure as casting it on a ballot paper, a parliamentary committee has concluded. Committee chairman Tony Smith said today, “It is clear to me that Australia is not in a position to introduce any large-scale system of electronic voting in the near future without catastrophically compromising our electoral integrity.” The committee found that secrecy of ballots cast could not ensured if people cast them at home.
I believe that the committee has missed the point here. Casting your vote from home may not guarantee secrecy. However, casting your vote electronically from an official polling booth has to be more efficient, guaranteeing secrecy, and candidate total votes would be known immediately allowing polls to be declared sooner, and negating delays from counts and recounts after polling day.
As for security, surely encrypted data would be sent to electoral commission servers, again guaranteeing data integrity.
It is my opinion that the parliamentary committee has arrived at a poorly informed, narrow viewed conclusion on this matter. I wonder if an independent review committee would have arrived at the same conclusion?
Of course the paper based method of exercising your democratic right has to be more costly than an equivalent electronic system.