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Govt takes another step toward e-voting in 2016, naming working party

The government has taken another step toward full-blooded e-voting at the 2016 local body elections, naming members on a working party.

After low turnout at October's local body elections, Local Government Minister Chris Tremain accelerated plans for online voitiing.

Whereas the initial plan was for a limited e-voting trial at the next local council elections, Mr Tremain is now open to the idea of a full-scale online ballot in 2016 - as long as a large scale test can be done in the interim. 

The working party members are:

  • Danny Mollan (practice manager at technology consultant company Nzym)
  • Darryl Griffin (local govt manager, Chch City Council)
  • David Farrar (pollster, blogger, chairman InternetNZ Policy Advisory Group)
  • David Pannett (Crown entity governance manager at the Ministry of Health)
  • Jan Ziegler-Peri (led Auckland Council’s Kids Voting programme)
  • Jordan Carter (InternetNZ CEO)
  • Lorraine Vincent (Manawatu District Council CEO)
  • Nick Leggett (Porirua City Council Mayor)
  • Paul Matthews (Institute of IT Professionals NZ CEO)
  • Anne Shaw (ICT and policy consultant, Dept of Internal Affairs)

"I’m very happy to be able to contribute to this important project on behalf of IITP and the IT community," working party member Matthews tells NBR.

"Online voting is the future, but we need to get the security and privacy aspects dead right, right from the start," he says.

"It’s important that the IT Profession is deeply involved and we welcome Minister Tremain’s inclusive approach to this working group."

Mr Tremain says, “The group includes a range of experts, including people with experience in IT, electoral processes and local government.  They will consider the advantages and difficulties associated with online voting and explore the possibility of using it for the 2016 local body elections.   But this is conditional on there being a significant and successful trial prior to 2016,” says Mr Tremain.

“Many people now are using smart phones and the internet for all manner of transactions – online voting should be one of them.  However we need to understand the risks, benefits and costs before we make any final decision.  Accessibility for all voters is a critical consideration in any move forward.

“The group includes technology consultants, a blogger, local body politicians and public servants to ensure independent strategic advice on all the issues. The Chair, Danny Mollan, will be remunerated for his work on the working party but all the other members are giving their time for free.”

Comments and questions

Unless the software used for online voting is open source and heavily scrutinised by anyone in society who has an interest, it's guaranteed to fail. Given those constraints, I'm pleased to see the people on this group, because I'm confident they're the sort who will be savvy enough to recognise a pup (and say so) if someone tries to sell them one.