Plans to implement a new online voting trial in the upcoming local body elections were scrapped last week due to a lack of confidence in the security processes of the program.
Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston said there is real concern that the trial did not meet legislative requirements to “guarantee public confidence in the election results,” as there had not been any extensive security testing so far.
The online voting trial was set to be used during the Wellington mayoral elections; and the cancellation of the trial has been heavily criticised by mayoral candidates Justin Lester and Nick Leggett.
Lester said the cancellations were “disappointing” and a “lost opportunity” for the council and the future of local body elections. Leggett echoed Lester’s disappointment, saying the decision was a “baffling decision, and a “blow to democracy.”
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In their respective positions as Deputy Mayor of Wellington and and Mayor of Porirua, Lester and Leggett have supported the move from a postal vote to an online voting system for years, and both the Wellington City Council and Porirua City Council have worked hard to develop and trial e-voting systems.
Both Lester and Leggett were disappointed that the amount of work their councils have put in over the years were now wasted by this cancellation. For Legget, the online voting system was a way to cater to the student vote, saying it would benefit the “modern lifestyles,” of millennials.
The current system in place is a postal vote, but after years of consistently low voter turnout the online voting trial was proposed in an attempt to increase turnout and involvement in local body politics. The proposed system was also seen as a way to make voting simpler, more accurate and less prone to errors.
Lester and Leggett want to see the Government continue its efforts to develop an online voting system, as trialing it at a local level would be a good step towards making online voting at the national level a reality.
To enrol to vote the old fashioned way, go to the Wellington City Council’s website. Voting for the 2016 local body elections will run from September 16th to October 8th.