[LINK] Register Online to Vote Should be Legal

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue Jul 20 09:14:58 AEST 2010

Tom Koltai wrote:

> Maybe by the next elections there will be a Progressive Democratic
> party... "All Legislation will be put to the vote ...

A disturbing alternative government, is presented in the play "True 
Logic of the Future": rule by computer. I attended a preview of this 
powerful steampunk interactive work in Canberra this week: 
It opens at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, 21 August for science week: 

> Kaul, Jasmine wrote:
> ... you can scan and  email your form to your local AEC office ...

So this would suggest that a form generated online would also be valid,
if it looked like the printed version.

To provide a mild form of authentication and to make the forms more
credible, an online system could produce a printable form and email it
to the voter, so the voter could then email it to the AEC.

What the AEC would get would look like a paper document, if printed.
This is the usual test an Australian court uses to assess the validity
of an electronic document (they don't worry about "electronic signatures").

Richard Chirgwin wrote:
> The only "non online" part of the enrollment is that you have to print 
> and physically sign the enrollment for return (which can be fax or scanned).

My reading of the legislation suggests that if fax or scanned copy is
valid, then an online form is also acceptable. If the AEC has ruled that
online forms are invalid, then all the faxed and emailed forms are also
invalid. So none of people who have ever registered that way can then be
permitted to vote.

> Just how indulged do people need to be? Do we really need to say "poor 
> thing, doesn't want to sign a piece of paper"?

Recently I had a problem when I was asked to sign, scan and send back a
form. I did not have a scanner to hand and so it was a real problem.
Given there was no real reason for the signature, apart from the fact
that those asking for it had not bothered to update their procedures,
why should I be put to the trouble?

In the case of the AEC, given that handling the paper forms will cost
more, it seems to be adding insult to injury to put me to unnecessary
trouble which will then waste the taxes I am paying. The ATO doesn't 
require me to fill out a paper form to pay my taxes, so why does the AEC 
require me to fill one out one to vote?

Ivan Trundle wrote:
> I think that there are two issues that Tom mentions here:
> 1. Enrolling to vote should be fully electronic.

I was going a bit further and arguing that the law already allows fully
electronic enrolment to vote. But a court would need to confirm this.

> 2. Enrolment legislation should change to allow people to be accepted 
onto the rolls closer to the election.

Yes, ideally a legal change would make the situation clearer. But I
expect that if challenged the current restriction would be ruled
unconstitutional by a court.

> Why is this so difficult, given that the legislation seems to be 
tinkered with on an almost-annual basis?

The legislation contains all sort of special cases for voting procedures
for people who are overseas, on military deployment or even in
Antartica. It would seem simple time to replace all these with one set
of provisions.

Jan Whitaker wrote:
> ... AEC system ... normally do 300/hour ...

If an electronic format was accepted, the AEC should be able to process 
300 registrations per second.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au

More information about the Link mailing list