Online voting trial ruled out

A planned trial of online voting in this year’s local body elections has been dumped.

Eight councils had been interested in trying online voting but Internal Affairs Minister Louise Upston has kicked it for touch, saying there is not enough time. It has been considered for years so I don’t know how time has now become a factor.

NZ Herald: Online voting not on the cards this year

The Government has pulled the pin on a trial of online voting in this year’s local body elections, saying it could not guarantee the security of the system in time.

Internal Affairs Minister Louise Upston announced the plan for some councils to trial online voting would not go ahead because time was running out for councils to prove voting system addressed concerns about security and vote integrity.

“Due to timing restrictions, preparations for the proposed trial have not yet met the legislative requirements and cannot guarantee public confidence in the election results.” She said security testing was planned but had not yet taken place. “Without seeing the results of testing we cannot be confident the systems are secure enough and the trial could not be authorised.”

Eight councils were interested in trialling online voting — Selwyn, Wellington, Porirua, Masterton, Rotorua, Matamata-Piako, Palmerston North and Whanganui.

Ms Upston said those councils which had signed up for the trial would be disappointed. However, the time pressures involved would increase the risks of any trial. “Maintaining public confidence and understanding of local electoral processes is more important than trialling online voting this year.”

The Government was open to looking a proposals for online voting in the future.

I doubt if it would be trialled in a General Election, so that’s another three years to wait until the next local body elections, unless it is tried in a referendum.

The Government first agreed to allow councils to trial online voting in December 2014 after a working party found online voting was feasible. It set out requirements to councils for a trial in November last year. That included full testing of the system, including testing to ensure votes could not be interfered with as well as an independent review. That work was to be done by June, but Ms Upston said it was clear that could not happen.

It’s difficult getting public interest in local body elections and online voting was seen as a way of improving that.

Online voting sounds good in theory but the practicalities are more of a problem.

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