[LINK] Voters could log on to skip the ballot box
brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Sep 24 09:08:46 AEST 2009
Voters could log on to skip the ballot box
September 24, 2009
SPECIAL Minister of State Joe Ludwig has flagged his desire to make
better use of the internet in the electoral process, including allowing
Australians to enrol to vote and update their details online.
Releasing the Rudd government's second electoral reform green paper
yesterday, Senator Ludwig said: "My proposition is this: a 21st century
electoral system should take advantage of 21st century technology if it
is to work effectively in the service of its citizens."
As revealed in The Australian yesterday, the government has also thrown
open the option of enabling citizens to cast their vote online.
The green paper canvasses removing compulsory voting and an overhaul of
the system of electing MPs, including optional preferential voting for
the lower house. It also seeks comment on whether individuals should be
automatically added to the electoral roll, whether non-citizens should
vote and whether exclusions on voting should be maintained for prisoners
of three years or more.
The green paper is part of the second stage of the government's overhaul
of the electoral system. The first stage focused on donations and
The opposition's spokesman on affairs of state, Michael Ronaldson,
immediately attacked the idea of online voting. "I remain deeply
sceptical about any changes to the mechanics of voting," he said.
Instead, the government needed to crack down on those who failed to vote
or enrol. "The current penalties for failing to enrol, or keep that
enrolment up to date, or for not voting, are, in my view, grossly
inadequate," he said.
Senator Ronaldson also called for better data-matching between the
Australian Electoral Commission, its state and territory counterparts
and commonwealth government bodies to ensure the rolls were accurate and
"I know that there will be cries of Big Brother," he said. "But the
simple fact is that at best estimates, there are one million people
eligible to vote who are not currently on the electoral roll ... the
equivalent of more than 10 federal electorates."
The Rudd government will also focus on changes that would lead to more
Australians casting a valid vote, including possibly extending the
close-of-rolls period once an election had been called.
Senator Ludwig told the AEC seminar in Canberra yesterday that at the
2007 federal election, more than 2.3 million Australians who were
entitled to vote did not have their votes counted. "Our democracy is
poorer for it," he said. "I would like to see us working on all fronts
to maximise participation."
He said the last major overhaul of the Electoral Act was 25 years ago
and it was time to look at whether it needed updating. The green paper
also looks at the possibly of lowering the voting age.
brd at iimetro.com.au
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