by Rebecca Merrett

Updated: NSW Electoral Commission to modernise iVote system

May 12, 20142 mins

The NSW Electoral Commission will modernise its remote e-voting system, iVote, which is expected to be used by around 100,000 voters during the 2015 state election.

NSWEC and online voting provider Scytl executed a contract after a tender was released in November last year. The five-year deal is worth more than $1.8 million.

iVote was first introduced at the March 2011 State Election, and is used by people who are visually impaired, disabled or are not able to get to a polling place to vote on election day.

A budget of $3.63-million state-wide to develop the online system was approved by the Treasury. If the modernised system proves to be successful, it could possibly be implemented in other jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand.

“This initiative will greatly improve the enfranchisement of NSW citizens. Given the pending demise of postal services and problems being experienced with manual counting a new approach for declaration votes is needed. The NSWEC still foresees electors voting at polling places for many elections to come,” said Ian Brightwell, CIO of NSWEC.

NSWEC will improve the use of cryptography for its iVote system.

“Also, the registration will instantly result in a vote being created. The previous system did it in batches and took up to 24 hours to issue iVote numbers,” said a NSWEC spokesperson.

“There are a large number of security features planned, most of which were also built in to the existing system. Improvements include improved use of cryptography and the incorporation of a verification system in which encrypted votes are sent to both the NSWEC and an independent auditor. This allows the two sets of data to be compared to ensure the data has not been tampered with,” added the spokesperson.

“The elector is also able to use the telephone to check that their vote was correctly recorded.”

NSWEC is proposing to use three data centres in Australia to support iVote, one which will be the new NSW government data centre.