Both Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull surprised a few people yesterday when they both said that given the length of time it has taken to resolve the 2016 election, it was perhaps time to look at electronic voting again. Ms Tips hears that this was somewhat out of the blue, and it seems as though both Shorten and Turnbull must have discussed it in their phone call just before Shorten conceded the election.

This got a mixed response on social media on Sunday, with some declaring it an inevitability, while others warning of the dangers of an opaque system of voting, and that the potential loss of a secret vote could outweigh any benefits of electronic voting. When Parliament resumes there will be, as there always is, another inquiry into the election, where no doubt electronic voting will be front and centre. This is what the last committee had to say about the prospect of electronic voting:

“The foundations of Australia’s voting system—compulsory voting, widespread and easy access to polling booths and polling day held on a Saturday—are robust. Electronic voting would fundamentally change not just the method, but the nature of voting in Australia.

The Committee believes that it is likely that technology will evolve to the point that it will be possible to vote electronically in federal elections. At that stage the question for a future Parliament, and the voting public, will be whether the convenience of electronic voting outweighs the risks to the sanctity of the ballot.

The view of this Committee is that the answer to this question at this time is that no, it does not.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey