Australians are still enthusiastic about e-voting, despite the disruption caused when the online Census system crashed last August.
A survey conducted by Australia Post in August 2016 and carried out after Census night on August 9 asked 1000 adults about their voting experiences in the July federal election and found 73 per cent of them wanted and expected to vote online at the next one in 2019.
Voters surveyed were flexible about where they would vote and what technology to use. People did not mind whether they used a touchscreen in a voting booth or their own device. While many people preferred to vote at home they also agreed that using a touchscreen in a booth could be quicker and speed up election results.
Almost half of those who voted in person during last year’s election moaned that they were stuck in queues to vote, with 20 per cent waiting more than 20 minutes and nearly 50 per cent of voters said it took too long to declare an election result. It took eight days to find out some results in 2016.
But eVoting in a federal election long way from the current reality. NSW elections have allowed people with disabilities and those living in remote areas to vote online or over the phone. ACT voters have been able to vote electronically in polling booths since 2001.
The report said:
“Our survey results indicate that the Census issue has not negatively impacted the attitude of Australian voters towards eVoting,” the Australia Post survey said.
“Australians are clearly ready to consider eVoting. They believe it will make it quicker to vote, quicker to declare a result and will save the government money.”
Australians also raised concerns about eVoting, principally about the risk of cyber attacks on their own device (23 per cent); the privacy of personal data (17 per cent) or the risk of fraud (16 per cent). Some people were also concerned about their vote being traced back to them.
Despite this enthusiasm for eVoting, almost three-quarters of those surveyed said it was still important to give people a choice and offer other methods of casting a vote.
The survey also backed up voters’ penchant for voting early in elections. In the last election, one-third of Australians voted early, compared with 14 per cent in 2010.
The Australia Post survey found that 17 per cent of people voted in person at an early voting centre, while 14 per cent lodged a postal vote.
But the report cautioned that any framework for e-voting should pay attention to the parable of CensusFail’s ICT meltdown and the furore surrounding data privacy in the lead up to the night, which led to some politicians like Nick Xenophon refusing to put their names on Census forms.
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