After an eight-day wait for an election result, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have called for electronic voting in future elections, but some Government MPs think older Australians may be skeptical about e-voting.
The new push for the modernisation of Australia’s voting system comes on the heels of the Election 2016 saga, with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) taking more than a week to tally enough votes for a result. In response, the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader both mentioned finding an e-voting solution in their victory and concession speeches on Sunday.
But some MPs, including Victorian member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, have cautioned against introducing a switch to computer voting, saying it has the potential to alienate older voters. Mr Chester, in particular, said he was unconvinced that e-voting was the answer, warning that any such move would at least need to be rolled out gradually rather than “in a way that was intimidating or confusing to some people”.
“For some of our younger voters, there’s no doubt we would prefer that, as long as we didn’t make it compulsory at the early stages. A lot of older voters would be cynical about and would be uncomfortable with it,” Mr Chester told ABC radio.
Australia is not alone in its hesitance to introduce electronic voting. Many countries have toyed with the notion, but fear e-voting is too vulnerable to attack or manipulation. Currently, the eastern European nation, Estonia, is the only country to have adopted online electronic voting.
Victoria and New South Wales already have electronic voting options for disabled and remote voters.
Raymond Schippers, a senior security analyst from cyber security company Checkpoint, shares security doubts about electronic voting.
“The amount of attacks over the internet is insane. In an instant someone could compromise 10,000 computers. And without the voter ever knowing, someone could change their vote and no one would ever be able to confirm it was changed,” he said. “The system now is imperfect, there’s no independent verification in place that could confirm each vote. But the possibility of infecting thousands of computers or having incorrect information is very real and a huge risk.”
We wait eight days for a result. We’re presented with few workable policies about issues that affect real Australians daily. Yet one of the first things put on the agenda is e-voting? Surely we have more pressing issues currently confronting Australians.
Electronic voting may be the way forward in future elections but it does come with security risks. Until such time as these security issues are addressed, all Australians, not just older voters, may have reason to be distrustful of e-voting.
Besides, older Australians have already taken to online banking, purchasing and other activities that involve having personal details stored in servers the world over. Older Australians have the life experience to know how to adapt to technology. The problem with e-voting is the security issue, not the age of the voter. And, to older Australians, it’s probably fair to say that electronic voting is the least of their concerns.
If ‘those up on high’ are serious about innovation and moving forward, then how about getting the NBN sorted first? Or, more importantly, how about solving our superannuation dilemma and focusing on fairly funding education, health and social services? How about a resolution to our refugee crisis?
Australians sent a clear message to our two major parties in Election 2016. That message was ‘we are not happy with your priorities’. Many Australians were unimpressed with the election campaign, but the delayed result gave us, and our politicians, pause to ponder the future of our nation. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon probably summed it up best when he said that the delayed result may have brought out some “humility rather than hubris” in our MPs.
“Maybe pollies sweating for a few days makes them consider who they’re there for in the first place,” he said.
Our leaders coming out and complaining about the delay in a result is equivalent to them bemoaning that they didn’t get what they wanted when they wanted it. Well now they know how many of us feel. Maybe the delay was a blessing in disguise. Maybe now they’ll know that we’re not happy with the way they are running the show.
So Mr Turnbull, how about getting our priorities in order? You’ve got your result, now it’s your turn to deliver some positive results to your country.
Did the delayed result really bother you? Do you think that electronic voting is a priority the Government should address? Which policies should be placed at the top of the agenda? Would you be distrustful of e-voting?