[LINK] High Court case Re: Register Online to Vote Should be Legal

Steven Clark steven.clark at internode.on.net
Sat Jul 31 14:38:26 AEST 2010

On 25/07/2010 1:14 PM, Philip Argy wrote:
> Section 98(2)(b) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 simply requires a
> claim form (in the approved form) to be "signed by the claimant".  I have
> little doubt that s. 10 of the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 enables that signing to be performed by electronic means.  However, and this aspect does not seem to have been much discussed, the immediately following subparagraph
> (c) requires the claimant's signature to "be attested by an elector or a
> person entitled to enrolment, who shall sign the claim as witness in his or
> her own handwriting".
> Whilst I have not seen exactly how the GetUp site was implemented, I'd be
> sceptical that a witness could satisfy that provision by using a mousepad.
> A proper signing tablet with stylus could possibly satisfy the requirement,
> and of course the physical requirement of witnessing of the claimant's
> signature also has to be met.
> So any legal challenge in my view is going to hinge on GetUp's ability to
> demonstrate that their system ENSURED compliance with s.98(2)(b) as well as
> the requirement for the claimant to sign

It occurs to me, in light of the lengthy discussion of electronic 
signatures that has followed form this post, to ask: have you considered 
what the *purpose* of the witness signing the document is in this 

What, do you suppose, is the point of requiring the witness to 'sign in 
[their] own handwriting' - or the qualification that they be an elector 
(or entitled to enrolment)?

So often technological solutions are discussed and implemented, that 
solve the wrong problem ... are we discussing the right concerns here?


Steven R Clark, BSc(Hons) LLB/LP(Hons) /Flinders/, MACS, Barrister & 

PhD Candidate & Sessional Academic
School of Commerce, Division of Business
City West Campus, University of South Australia (UniSA)

Deputy Director, Economic, Legal and Social Issues Committee (ELSIC)
Community Engagement Board (CEB)
Australian Computer Society (ACS)

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