Online voting by 2016 'possible'

A Government working party investigating the logistics of online voting has found it could be feasible by 2016.

In a report released today, the group said online voting should not replace the postal ballot, but should work alongside existing forms of voting.

"Having considered international experiences, the local government electoral system and technological and security challenges associated with enabling voting online, we consider that online voting is feasible and desirable," the report said.

"It could make the voting process easier and faster, increase the speed and accuracy of obtaining results and could reduce costs of local elections over time."

It proposed a "politically binding" trial for the 2016 local body elections. Although smaller-scale trials in the lead up to the local elections would be important, the working party said there were no opportunities to trial online voting that would be "significant enough" to adequately test the system ahead of a full local government election.

And while the group said online security for voting was critical, it would not be easy.

"No ICT system is perfect, and absolute security on the internet is not achievable," the report said.

"It is vitally important to trial and implement online voting in a manner that reinforces and maintains New Zealanders' trust and confidence in our electoral systems."

The group has recommended the Department of Internal Affairs take the lead on further investigations into online voting.

Councils and communities should be given the opportunity to choose whether online voting would be available as a voting method in their regions.

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The group has been looking at the issue of online voting since last December when then Local Government Minister Chris Tremain appointed the working party.

It was hoped online voting would be one of a number of ways to lift voter turnout at elections, which has been trending downward for the past decade.

The working group included IT consultants, a politics blogger, local body politicians, and public servants who were to look into the advantages and difficulties associated with online voting with a view to having it in place in time for the 2016 local body elections.


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