, pub-6750398400224078, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

Pencil and Paper Votes

Pencil and Paper Votes

Yesterday Victorians voted to decide who would form the state government for the next four years.  The highlight for me was my 18 year old son, Josh, voting for the first time.  He collected all the How-To-Vote fliers from the various parties, lined up with me to get our names crossed off the big book and went into the cardboard cubicle to cast his vote.  While I was completing my vote, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be until voting goes digital.

I wrote about pencil and paper votes after the 2016 Federal Election, and I still don’t understand why we waste so much paper, money and time voting the same way we did 100 years ago.  Some people will talk about the security and fraud risk of going digital, but I don’t accept that.  We have been doing our banking and taxes online for years, surely our finance data is more secure than which political candidates we vote for.

After we completed the vote cards we stuffed them into a cardboard box and threw the fliers into the recycle bin.  Surely in Josh’s lifetime, Australia will move to either voting online from home, or at very least at a digital booth at the local school.

recycling how-to-vote cards

Recycling bin for How-To-Vote cards at the election

Voting with pencil and paper

Yesterday Australia voted in the Federal Election, for most people that meant lining up at the local school or church, waiting for an official to find your name amongst hundreds of pages of names and hand you two pieces of paper.  You then took both of those ballot papers, one of which was ridiculously large to fit (in my case) 38 Senate party candidates, to a cardboard booth to mark your preferences with a blunt pencil attached to a too short piece of string.

Imagine, just for a moment, a future where technology allows everyone to vote with an electronic device.  That device can either be in the home or even portable and carried in your pocket.  That same technology could also allow you to manage your banking without going into a branch, manage a share portfolio without talking to a stock broker, check your government benefits without visiting Certrelink, send messages to friends and colleagues and even make phone calls away from a landline.

Hold on, you say, it’s 2016 and we can do all of that stuff on our computer, tablet or smart phones.  All of that stuff except vote!  Why are we still voting with pencil and paper, a system that has no safeguards against mistakes (in my electorate alone there are over 4,800 informal votes out of 88,400 counted so far) a system that takes an enormous work force to the count and collate those votes. This is the way voting was done 100 years ago, even 20 years ago there wouldn’t have been much alternative to pencil and paper, but in 2016 this is ridiculous!

This morning, the day after voting, we are being told it may take weeks to finalise the election result as pre-polling and postal votes are counted.  In this day and age we should be able to tally all results electronically and announce the winning candidates within minutes of the 6PM close of voting.