Auckland Council is investigating online voting

Written By: - Date published: 12:34 pm, November 21st, 2018 - 63 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, elections, internet, local body elections, local government, Politics - Tags:

Auckland Council wishes to conduct a trial of online voting at next year’s local government elections and the local boards are being asked to comment.

People that know me will be aware that I am a somewhat self confessed technophile. I have owned a computer for 30 years now and my MacBook Pro is rarely not by my side.

But I must admit having misgivings about the proposal to test run electronic voting and wonder if this will be too soon.

The report that the Waitakere Ranges Local Board is to consider this week says this:

The internet has become an integral part of everyday life. Many of the transactions that used to be carried out by post have long been replaced by online options, to the extent that people expect online facilities for their day-to-day activities. Online voting is therefore a natural progression and constitutes an opportunity to modernise the operation of local democracy in New Zealand.

The current postal voting method relies entirely on New Zealand Post providing an effective and reliable service. It is a reality that the postal service is declining. Fewer New Zealanders choose to communicate via post, particularly first time and younger voters, many of whom have never posted a letter. The frequency of delivery is decreasing and the cost of sending mail is surging. The postal cost for the 2019 Auckland local elections will increase by an estimated 77 per cent compared with 2016, because of a postage price increase of almost 60 per cent and an increase in the number of electors of approximately 70,000.

It will become increasingly difficult to deliver postal voting effectively and affordably. Therefore, it is crucial to have a viable alternative to postal voting in place, and online voting is the obvious choice.

While complaints about the mail system are appropriate this should not of itself be a reason to change systems. And there is a cost in making democracy function properly. If you want an example of a local election with problems the recent election for the Auckland Consumer Energy Trust is a prime example with turnout less than 13%. It did not help that the independent electoral officer was banned from promoting the election.

After the recent US elections and the multitude of complaints arising from the conduct of different elections particularly in Texas, Georgia and Florida I believe that some caution is warranted.

The complaints from those elections are numerous, voting machines that preferred Cruz to Beto even though voters had selected the all Democrat option, voting machines locked away, voters purged from voting lists because of slightly mismatched signatures, one candidate for Governor also being the chief electoral officer, and voting resources favouring wealthy over poor areas.

And the Internet does not have a good reputation when it comes to the enforcement of democratic norms, as shown by the various complaints over Facebook, the spread of fake news and possible Russian interference in the US election show. It has even been shown that there is a sustainable business model involving the spread of fake news, and it seems the faker the news the more profitable the spread.

I appreciate that many of these examples are not relevant for the proposed electronic voting model but they can show what happens when things get skewered.

Stanford Computer Professor David Dill has provided these reasons for not trusting computers with online voting:

  • There’s no way with any reasonable amount of resources that you can guarantee that the software and hardware are bug-free and that they haven’t been maliciously attacked.
  • There exists the opportunity for phishing emails being answered for the unwary and for those credentials to then be used to vote in a way contrary to the intent of the voter. Although given the size and scale of local elections the prospects would appear to be remote there is still the possibility that this could occur.
  • The benefit of a paper based voting system is that there is a fully reviewable chain of evidence that can be checked to make sure that the intent of the electorate has been properly ascertained.
  • The perception of election trustworthiness is important. A result needs to be generally accepted as being accurate and credible. And breach of security around internet voting could irretrievably taint an election result.

And he said this about the use of paper ballots:

Paper has some fundamental properties as a technology that make it the right thing to use for voting. You have more-or-less indelible marks on the thing. You have physical objects you can control. And everyone understands it. If you’re in a polling place and somebody disappears with a ballot box into a locked room and emerges with a smirk, maybe you know that there is a problem. We’ve had a long time to work out the procedures with paper ballots and need to think twice before we try to throw a new technology at the problem. People take paper ballots for granted and don’t understand how carefully thought through they are.

Auckland Council’s proposal is for there to be a variety of voting techniques and I agree this is important. Having digital to the exclusion of others would discriminate against those for who the internet is a somewhat foreign place, including the elderly and the poor.

The report itself says this about security:

No information technology (IT) or voting system is 100 per cent secure, but the Online Voting Working Party is committed to developing an online voting solution that will guarantee a similar or higher level of security than currently offered by postal voting.

I am not sure this will be enough. Reputation wise any breach of an electronic system could be disastrous.

I am interested in feedback on this issue. Hit me with your thoughts.

Reprinted from gregpresland.com

63 comments on “Auckland Council is investigating online voting”

  1. tc 1

    Super city is an IT basket case with the playing of political games prized above actual technology skills and experience.

    E-voting is a minefield and these clowns still haven’t completed the merge of the old councils using older well understood technology.

    Kids that play with matches shouldn’t be given more material to burn through. They’re unlikely to grow up so I say keep as is till it’s proven rock solid offshore.

  2. SaveNZ 2

    Good help democracy then!

    An 11 yo has just hacked into a simulated online voting system in the US. Many of the kids were able to hack into the election systems.

    Council can’t even implement SAP with the Supercity without blowing 1 billion dollars and getting nowhere. Last time I rang the council and they manually directed me about 5 years after their IT integration. Council unitary plan submission was withdrawn as illegal. They are a basket case with money to burn with more and more unnecessary white elephant consultants, their underwater stadium in global warming cost $1 million so far, apparently it will not cost ratepayers anything (ah but it just did??? and then next sentence a $4 million “loan” to develop the concept further.) They can’t even keep track of their own contradictions.

    Their online voting is yet another way to waste money at best or at worst remove democracy at local level due to ease of hacking these systems from Morans.

    How about they use that million+ working IT party money, to mow the lawns and clean up the beaches for Xmas for their ratepayers.

    And while they are about it, not cancel the Xmas parade for the kids, as they are such miserable grinches.

    • One Two 2.1

      11 (days) two days ago

      22 (years) yesterday

      11 (year old) today

      Which story with an 11 or multiple of will you post about tomorrow?

      • SaveNZ 2.1.1

        9/11?

        If you concentrated more on the content than the numbers you’ll notice the stories are completely different.

        • One Two 2.1.1.1

          The stories are all a rehash…regurgitated ad nauseum…no need to read them…I’ve done so many years ago…

          The numbers are the signal…go ahead…google search the stories you will see many of the same from years past…

          People’s chains/emotions are being pulled…

          Understanding the indicators is a starting point…

          Fabrications…all of it…

      • greywarshark 2.1.2

        You’re puzzling One Two. Do you have a numbers fetish? What do you mean with these 11s. Are you sort of inviting us to morning tea?

        Please be polite to savenz who is a really hard working factual blogger giving detail, not a snap judgment type whose brain is the size of their big toe. Or maybe a pea, as in Fawlty Towers ‘Is this part of your brain madam’?

        • One Two 2.1.2.1

          How am I being impolite?

          I agree that SNZ is a hard working, factual blogger…

          Numbers aside, as I understand most don’t pay attention to such details, despite the obvious importance placed on them by editors, for example…

          They are IMO, give aways to the level of credibility to a story…simple google search shows the repetitiveness of the fabricated articles…

          Elementary level stuff…

          • SaveNZ 2.1.2.1.1

            Do you seriously think that the stories are fake plastered over the news media aka the NZ women who worked as a psychiatrist for 22 years without a degree, NZ failing to deport a man who married after a brief online chat and now living in NZ, or MIT tech review are making things up – you must be one big conspiracy theorist, One Two!

            Thanks greywarshark for the vote of confidence:)

  3. SaveNZ 3

    US voting systems: Full of holes, loaded with pop music, and ‘hacked’ by an 11-year-old
    Pen and paper is still king in America election security

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/13/defcon_election_vote_hacking/

    Will Online Voting Turn Into an Election Day Debacle?

    http://content.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,2025696,00.html

  4. SaveNZ 4

    The Internet Is No Place for Elections

    It’s not safe to connect our voting infrastructure to the Internet, but some election boards are doing it anyway.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602413/the-internet-is-no-place-for-elections/

    Source MIT Technology Review, Founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  5. crashcart 6

    I agree that the issues you identified need to be addressed. In particular the phishing issue. I do think we need to move this way though. Postal ballots are very different to those cast at a polling place and suffer in some way from similar issues identified for the web based voting.

    In the end web based voting would simplify and likely increase voter participation and to me that is the biggest benefit. We should be doing everything we can to get maximum participation. Developing a secure way to vote on line seems like the best candidate for achieving that too me.

  6. Tiger Mountain 7

    well the last Census with a heavy online focus, was a right “balls up” of a Govt. function that used to be a reasonable benchmark for trustworthiness of a civic process

    how robust and secure will the IT be, with an online Supercity voting system?, for the typical voter can the answer to that be easily understandable and truthful–the behaviour of CCOs leave a lot to be desired and Council bureaucrats attitude over the likes of Penny Bright’s quite reasonable requests for basic transparency, do not give much confidence

    it is a dilemma, the pathetic turnout of around 38% in the last SuperMayor election needs to be raised somehow for more democracy to flourish in Auckland, but how and when that is accomplished I guess is the question

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Testing helps ensure 2018 Census success

      Result: 2018 Census success

      The 2018 Census digital-first approach was an outstanding success, given the risks involved. The systems worked as planned with three million New Zealanders completing the survey online by the end of Census Day with many more over the following days.

      2018 Census General Manager Denise McGregor was pleased with the results “we’re delighted to see that so many people have used computers, tablets, or smartphones to fill in their forms”.

      After the online Census systems were switched off in late May, Government Statistician Liz MacPherson stated “Our interim figures are showing that more than 82 percent of our responses were online, which far surpasses our online target of 70 percent, and the quality of the data we’ve received online is also very high”.

      People completing the online survey on Census night anecdotally commented that the system worked well and responded immediately. An amazing result given that tens or even hundreds of thousands of people would have been using the Census systems at the same time.

      I really do think that voting online will help bring up local voting considerably while the postal system keeps it down.

      • Enough is Enough 7.1.1

        Would you use online voting in your preferred version of participatory democracy?

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1

          Yes. It’s really the only way that it’s actually practical. Representative democracy was Ok when we didn’t have modern computers and communications. Now that we do it’s possible to move to participatory democracy.

      • Tiger Mountain 7.1.2

        well the initial reports said that overall participation rates in the 2018 Census were down on previous years…
        https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/low-census-rates-cause-data-collection-problems

        post, bar courier packages, is obviously heading to the sunset, and with transience among ‘generation rent’ a factor, online is the way to go–when it is robust and demonstrably accurate to voters intentions–such as they may be!

      • One Two 7.1.3

        You’re an advocate for mandatory voting, so it would follow you believe that increasing vote count could lead to improved outcomes?

        No mandatory
        No digital

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.3.1

          What I get from your comment is that you don’t actually want better outcomes.

          • One Two 7.1.3.1.1

            That is your interpretation…

            It is incorrect

            • Draco T Bastard 7.1.3.1.1.1

              You don’t want anything that will increase voter turnout which may, or may not, produce better outcomes which means that the only interpretation available is the one I got. Perhaps the problem is that you haven’t really thought about it properly and are just working on the knee-jerk reaction of online voting being bad.

              I want to go to online voting as it will allow participatory democracy and it has been proven that the more people who engage in making a decision the better the decision is.

              I want democracy because it’s better than dictatorship but getting millions of people to communicate is very, very difficult. Using paper it’s impossible which means that we must go online. It carries risk, as pretty much anything does, and so we’d need to mitigate that risk but we would be much better off from doing so.

    • SaveNZ 7.2

      38% reflected the distaste on the candidates and their similarity of ideas. Nobody exactly shined out as a good person to vote for, in particular for Mayor.

      People should also be able to vote for the council CEO and the COO CEO over a short list of candidates and they might get more interest from voters.

      I bet they would get double the interest in selecting the CEO of Ports of Auckland for example and the ability to vote the present Ports of Auckland crowd out.

      • SaveNZ 7.2.1

        People are aware now that democracy at local level has become less and less, so again what is the point. From Chris Trotter

        “At both the national and the local level the effect of these economic and political reforms was to significantly disempower the country’s politicians. Regulation, where it couldn’t be avoided altogether, was to be “light-handed”. The day-to-day running of things was to be left to the market’s “invisible hand” or, in those places where “free market forces” had yet to make their presence felt, to the new order’s administrative proxies – the CEOs of the new government ministries and local government bureaucracies.

        With remarkable alacrity, the ideological and practical political infrastructure required to support the new economic regime was cemented into place. In the nation’s schools and universities; in it’s publicly and privately owned news media; in its local and national institutions, Rogerpolitics became the new orthodoxy. For the next thirty years it would not only inspire the design of the mechanisms by which political power is exercised, but also the moral justifications for their use.”

        • SaveNZ 7.2.1.1

          Also from Chris Trotter on the erosion of democracy.

          “It gets worse. Over the last decade or so our local authorities’ legal advisers have attempted (often successfully) to persuade councillors who have run for office on promises to rescue this much needed municipal service from the accountant’s calculator, or that particularly beautiful park from the developer’s bulldozers, to refrain from participating in the debates and, most importantly, the votes, which would allow them to fulfil their promises. It would not be possible, say the lawyers, for these crusading councillors to act impartially. They must abstain.

          You see where this is going, don’t you? The whole notion of local democracy is being called into question. If it is no longer possible to campaign forcefully for or against council policy, for fear of being denied the right to participate and vote in the subsequent debates, then the electors have no way of knowing which candidates are pledged to make something happen – or not happen. Councillors are reduced to a browbeaten collection of rubber-stampers: prey to private sector contractors, condescending legal advisers, and over-mighty CEOs. The final indignity being that, having signed up to the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, these poor souls are forbidden from speaking out angrily, or publicly, about their powerlessness.

          Perhaps, therefore, we should be baffled at the Chief Ombudsman’s bafflement. Perhaps the truly remarkable thing is how few CEOs behave like the CEO of the Horowhenua District Council. After all, is it not cruel to encourage councillors to believe that they have the slightest ability to intervene on behalf of their constituents?

          And the very idea of ordinary citizens having the right to a say in how their community is governed. Well, that’s just silly.”

          http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com/2018/11/communication-breakdown.html

    • James Thrace 7.3

      The census is an issue as it will no longer be reflective of future trends. As Maori are less likely to have filled it out it will impact on the number of Maori seats.

  7. Draco T Bastard 8

    After the recent US elections and the multitude of complaints arising from the conduct of different elections particularly in Texas, Georgia and Florida I believe that some caution is warranted.

    Caution is obviously warranted. What the US experience tells us is that we should never, ever use machines produced on the cheap by private corporations which also have a preference for who wins. In fact, IMO, the home PC and even late model phones are a much more secure option.

    In other words, online voting.

    And the Internet does not have a good reputation when it comes to the enforcement of democratic norms, as shown by the various complaints over Facebook, the spread of fake news and possible Russian interference in the US election show.

    You’ll note that Facebook is a private corporation that has a preference for Republican type politics and policies. You should also note that Facebook is not ‘the internet’.

    We most definitely should not be using Facebook or any entity connected to it to do our online voting.

    There’s no way with any reasonable amount of resources that you can guarantee that the software and hardware are bug-free and that they haven’t been maliciously attacked.

    But you can make sure that it’s most likely that those things haven’t happened.

    There exists the opportunity for phishing emails being answered for the unwary and for those credentials to then be used to vote in a way contrary to the intent of the voter. Although given the size and scale of local elections the prospects would appear to be remote there is still the possibility that this could occur.

    True – on all counts.

    The benefit of a paper based voting system is that there is a fully reviewable chain of evidence that can be checked to make sure that the intent of the electorate has been properly ascertained.

    Bollocks. I cannot check to see if my vote via the paper system was counted how I wanted it to be counted. An online system could allow that to happen.

    The perception of election trustworthiness is important. A result needs to be generally accepted as being accurate and credible. And breach of security around internet voting could irretrievably taint an election result.

    All of that applies to paper voting as well. As I said, I cannot check to see if my vote was counted correctly. A recount will bring back a different total proving that it’s not accurate. So how can we even trust a paper system when it doesn’t have even close to the security of an online system?

    You have more-or-less indelible marks on the thing. You have physical objects you can control.

    Once the paper is out of my hand I have no control. People in authority do and there’s no guarantee that they haven’t been bought.

    And everyone understands it. If you’re in a polling place and somebody disappears with a ballot box into a locked room and emerges with a smirk, maybe you know that there is a problem.

    It doesn’t need to disappear into a backroom with a smirk. Just needs a few people to purposefully miscount in full view of everyone.

    We’ve had a long time to work out the procedures with paper ballots and need to think twice before we try to throw a new technology at the problem.

    That’s not a valid reason to prevent bringing in a possibly better system that could bring about full participatory democracy.

    • SaveNZ 8.1

      The problem is that the data they collected was pretty questionable because when you have a lot of people living in NZ who don’t read English (person I know who married a Kiwi just copied their census form and so they came out as completely different ethnicity for starters) or homeless couch surfing people who are not recorded. So you no longer have any accuracy in your statistics anymore.

      The other advantage of online census is that they can easily share the information with 5 eyes. In fact pretty sure they already do.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        The problem is that the data they collected was pretty questionable because when you have a lot of people living in NZ who don’t read English (person I know who married a Kiwi just copied their census form and so they came out as completely different ethnicity for starters)

        I’m pretty sure the old system would have had more than what happened under the new system. The new system did, after all, have additional language help which wasn’t available previously.

        homeless couch surfing people who are not recorded.

        I’m pretty sure that they weren’t counted in the old system either.

        The other advantage of online census is that they can easily share the information with 5 eyes. In fact pretty sure they already do.

        They don’t. They really do have robust processes in place to prevent such sharing.

  8. Nick 9

    The money would be better spent requiring all eligible people to vote (with pen and paper). Offer everyone rates rebate or McDonalds vouchers or free bus rides (or lime scooter rides) once they have voted.

    • SaveNZ 9.1

      +1 agree Nick, but also make it so that anything local council funded with public money, is actually democratic and the people voted in, have power over the civil servants, not the other way around.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      Online voting would be cheaper than paper voting.

      • SaveNZ 9.2.1

        Yes saving money is more important than having a true election outcome. sarcasm.

        That way more money to give to corporate welfare.

        I guess Chinese control is upon us, they can fight it out with Russia and the US.

        Long Live Phil Goff and the National party comrades for the NZ totalitarian state!

        Throw the homeless from the streets and cars!

        (ok, yep they are doing that already under Phil Goff , other councils and the Labour Party, but under the Natz they would probably eventually put the homeless in prison so that their private prison mates can profit).

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1

          Yes saving money is more important than having a true election outcome.

          We don’t get a true election outcome with paper. If we did we wouldn’t get recounts that changed the elected MP – twice.

          Online voting would be more accurate.

          That way more money to give to corporate welfare.

          Have you been watching what’s happening recently?

          I guess Chinese control is upon us

          That does appear to be the case courtesy of donation rules and National willing to have a spy as an MP.

  9. cleangreen 10

    During the ‘amalgamation of councils’ voting around NZ that National put us through it was a sad affair so we learnt a lot then.

    You need to have a paper trail to fall back on when any voting procedure goes tits up as happens in Florida during the 2000 Florida elections.

    An all electronic voting system can easily be hacked by algorithms system using a secret ‘source code only the system operator develops and always keeps it private and no-one can get access to the code to check authenticity of the total vote afterwards.

    We must use a ‘Voter-verified paper audit trail’ system only (VVPAT) folks to keep it honest.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter-verified_paper_audit_trail

    Voter-verified paper audit trail
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verifiable paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballotless voting system. A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results. It contains the name of the candidate (for whom vote has been cast) and symbol of the party/individual candidate.

    The VVPAT offers some fundamental differences as a paper, rather than electronic recording medium when storing votes. A paper VVPAT is readable by the human eye and voters can directly interpret their vote. Computer memory requires a device and software which potentially is proprietary. Insecure voting machine[1] records could potentially be changed quickly without detection by the voting machine itself. It would be more difficult for voting machines to corrupt records without human intervention. Corrupt or malfunctioning voting machines might store votes other than as intended by the voter unnoticed. A VVPAT allows voters the possibility to verify that their votes are cast as intended and can serve as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes.

    The VVPAT includes a direct recording electronic voting system (DRE), to assure voters that their votes have been recorded as intended. It is intended, and some argue necessary, as a means by which to detect fraud and equipment malfunction. Depending on election laws the paper audit trail may constitute a legal ballot and therefore provide a means by which a manual vote count can be conducted if a recount is necessary. The solution was first demonstrated (New York City, March 2001)[citation needed] and used (Sacramento, CA 2002) by AVANTE International Technology, Inc.[citation needed].

    In non-document ballot voting systems – both mechanical voting machines and DRE voting machines – the voter does not have an option to review a tangible ballot to confirm the voting system accurately recorded his or her intent. In addition, an election official is unable to manually recount ballots in the event of a dispute. Because of this, critics claim there is an increased chance for electoral fraud or malfunction and security experts, such as Bruce Schneier, have demanded voter-verifiable paper audit trails.[2] Non-document ballot voting systems allow only a recount of the “stored votes”. These “stored votes” might not represent the correct voter intent if the machine has been corrupted or suffered malfunction.

    A fundamental hurdle in the implementation of paper audit trails is the performance and authority of the audit. Paper audit systems increase the cost of electronic voting systems, can be difficult to implement, often require specialized external hardware, and can be difficult to use. In the United States, 27 states require a paper audit trail by statute or regulation for all direct recording electronic voting machines used in public elections.[3] Another 18 states do not require them but use them either statewide or in local jurisdictions.[4] Five US states basically have no paper trail.[5]

    In India, the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project in Indian general election, 2014.[6][7][8][9] VVPAT was implemented in Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram constituencies.[10][11][12][13][14][15] Voter-verified paper audit trail was first used in an election in India in September 2013 in Noksen (Assembly Constituency) in Nagaland.[16][17] VVPAT along with EVMs was used on a large-scale for the first time in India,[18] in 10 assembly seats out of 40 in Mizoram Legislative Assembly election, 2013.[19] VVPAT -fitted EVMs was used in entire Goa state in the 2017 assembly elections, which was the first time that an entire state in India saw the implementation of VVPAT.[20][21]

  10. Gabby 11

    I’m sure all right thinking godfearing women will welcome the opportunity to be properly supervised in the exercising of their democratic duties on the patriarch’s laptop draccy.

  11. Jum 12

    After trump-ville, no thanks.

  12. lprent 13

    As a very experienced programmer, I’m dead against online voting.

    Probably because I can think of far too many ways to finagle it. Everything from making sure that the votes are skewed to making it simply unreliable (for instance making sure that it only works for 90% of the voting period or has bad access to certain suburbs) and just making sure that it doesn’t happen with denial of service attacks. And I’m not even that interested in being disruptive.

    As far as I’m concerned, they should abandon postal voting as it simply doesn’t work and never has as far as I can tell. It was originally brought into Auckland to stop the decline of votes – which it then failed to staunch at all.

    I’m afraid that I suspect that having convenient polling stations using paper both for advance voting and for on the days is the most effective way to go. And all elections need to be advertised loudly and preferably consolidated together.

    • mickysavage 13.1

      Thanks LPrent. I value your judgment!

    • Graeme 13.2

      Thank you lprent.

      There’s so much in engineering and business (and public policy) that goes “well that didn’t work, maybe we didn’t go far or hard enough. It’s rarely “oh shit, we went too far, let’s go back to the start”

      going back to my engineering training a lecture that’s always stuck is one on design principles that included this nursery rhyme

      https://youtu.be/pqU0xWTKOyo

      And a hand out about a swing, client wanted a tyre tied at the top of diameter with a couple of metres of rope to a branch with the bottom of the tyre half a meter off the ground. After the input of multiple departments and consultants the client got a tyre placed around the very top of the tree. (it’s my great regret that I’ve lost that handout)

      Sometimes we need to go back to the start and admit we went down the wrong track, being trying to make voting “easier” . We get very good, by international standards, turnouts at general elections, which are walk in, paper ballots, and poor turnouts for postal ballots. Just go walk in and put the effort into getting people engaged.

    • SaveNZ 13.3

      +1 Iprent

  13. Dean Reynolds 14

    Stick to paper voting, for god’s sake! It’s the only system that gives you a proven audit trail & eliminates electoral fraud

  14. R.P Mcmurphy 15

    this is just more nonsense from marketing/consulting graduates who think they know everything.

  15. greywarshark 16

    On line voting would lead to fraud. It is such an attractive proposition for clever, warped teenagers to do for fun and insert Miss Piggy as one of the candidates.

    And there is Big Money in Auckland Supershitty and definitely worth wangling the people of your lobby group in. Some would say that Auckland has been influenced by a cabal since the 1900s, and they have got so strong they can sweep Epsom with a golden broom.

    Just have long periods for voting and get the brass band and the pipe band and the kapa haka group, and the tumblers, and the littlies singing some songs throughout the day on the main day. Get serious about it being enjoyable and something to celebrate. Do not limit voting to one working day between 10 and 5.30.
    We can’t afford to trust anybody standing for positions of power now to not consider skewing their advantage. Do not prevent people who have been to prison from voting, people who pick their nose from voting, or some other habit that will disqualify people from inclusion.

    It is better if people have the chance to meet the candidates who will go to different areas, in the two weeks before, a mixed group travelling in specially painted people-movers or shuttle buses, and spend half an hour talking to people, the candidates should front up. Tell everyone you are coming and there, broadcast some NZ music.

    On line you get further and further away from the reality of who’s running the joint. Loved the little furore about the narrow street in Wellington which the CC had refused to do anything about cars parking and obstructing thoroughly. So a guy painted the yellow lines himself. Heavens above they cried, what next. But let’s get involved personally, and not try to cater to the square eyed vague people whose minds are far from where their bodies are. What do they know about their locality and the people in it?

  16. James Thrace 17

    The Local Government Act allows for voting systems to be decided by the council.

    All the council needs to do, if concerned about postal voting incurring low turnout, is to do in person voting.

    The Act allows for it to happen.

    All the council has to do is pass a resolution confirming that voting will be done in person.

    As there is no specific date that voting has to be done on, just by, this means that Auckland Council could run ballot booths at all local amenities for the two weeks before the close of voting day.

    It will be a damn sight cheaper, and more Democratic, than electronic voting methods.

    It is up to citizens to agitate and pressure councillors to vote for ballot boxes rather than mail votes.

  17. NZJester 18

    I have used computers for years and I would have a problem trusting online voting systems set up by those who win a contract by putting in a cheap tender. To make a profit they will cut all the corners they can. That could leave it open to outside interference.

    • Graeme 18.1

      ” That could leave it open to outside interference.”

      Well that’s where the profit would be in the job. Either by selling access to the highest bidder, or leaving a “bug” that needs ongoing maintenance. Sorry, but that’s the way the world goes round. A sharp programmer (lprent @13 https://thestandard.org.nz/2188792-2/#comment-1552656 ) would do just that.

      The whole idea is fucked.

      Just give up on postal and go back to walk in, both advance, and on the day. And make it your Civic Duty.

  18. Nick K 19

    Voting should not be too easy. People died to ensure we could vote, therefore it is a hard-earned privilege. You could easily change it from postal voting to booth voting, over a 10 day period or something, at local libraries or community halls.

    I’m not convinced electronic voting will lead to a higher turnout. Getting the ballot paper delivered; ticking a few boxes; and returning it in the post through a self-addressed envelope isn’t difficult.

    • NZJester 19.1

      One reason for the lower postal returns might actually be due to the fact the process to return that letter has actually got harder for a lot of people.
      It used to be if I wanted to post something it was a short trip down the street to the one beside the dairy a 10-minute walk there and back for me.
      Now if I want to post anything it would take me a good 30 to 40 minutes there and back on foot to the nearest postbox. Of a half-dozen postboxes, I knew the location of that used to be in my area, only one still remains.
      It took me a day or two to work out where the closest mailbox was to me after they removed the one from our street. With not many people actually sending much mail any more I wonder if they don’t know where to go to post it.

      • SaveNZ 19.1.1

        Good point NZJester.

        (Also I find the same problem when trying to find a working bus stop in Auckland with all the constant roadworks/pavement works and construction projects. )

        Once had to ask 4 bus drivers where my bus stop had gone with the rail link. Nobody knew. Poof, one minute something for the public to use is there, the next minute some bureaucrat has removed it and nobody knows what the alternative is including their own staff.

  19. Incognito 20

    FWIIW, I’d choose a low voter turnout or participation rate over a cheaper more expedient option that has (much more) potential to be rigged and is therefore unreliable.

  20. nukefacts 21

    This idea is fatally flawed for three reasons:

    1. security – as someone with deep experience of the tech sector, programming, security and technology architecture I can categorically state that there is no way to make any online voting system 100% secure from threats. This includes both the systems that would be deployed when voting, as there is no practical way to make these totally safe, and the source code written and managed by one or more contracting companies. Hell, even the NSA couldn’t keep their specialist hacking tools safe within their organisation – the best ones were leaked a few years ago and are now weaponised by criminals and in use around the world.

    2. economics – just the very existence of online voting systems means that a threat actor such as Russia or China can use any means at their disposal to compromise the system. All it takes is a handful of talented programmers. At most it might cost you a few hundred thousand dollars to sway elections. Compare this to paper voting – the cost to compromise an election would be astronomical, and easily detected because it involves so many physical touch points – ballot boxes, polling centres etc.

    3. need – there’s actually no need to go down this route. There is no reliable evidence that online voting will increase turnout. The actual problem is a deficit of democracy – voters are turning away from the polls because politicians no longer represent them so they rightly conclude, what’s the point? This won’t be solved by online voting.

    Conclusion: stupid idea dreamt up by fools with no understanding of reality who are unwilling to listen to reasoned argument.

    • SaveNZ 21.1

      You forgot to add in your conclusion Nukefacts, that the council also are obsessed with wasting money with unworkable IT (and other) schemes outside of normal rational:)

    • Draco T Bastard 21.2

      1. The same can be said of the paper system. It’s not a question of there being risks but if we can manage them to being a minor issue rather than a hazard. I’m pretty sure that they can be.
      2. And it’s also very cheap to prevent them.
      3. There is definitely a need. It will allow an actual democracy rather than keeping the elected dictatorship now. We will be able to make decisions as a nation and thus govern ourselves rather than being governed by businesses who can afford the lobbyists.

      Conclusion: You’re fuckwit with no understanding of reality who is unwilling to listen to reasoned argument.

      • nukefacts 21.2.1

        @Draco

        1. Nope, economically it is very hard to compromise paper based voting. You need a large number of humans to compromise the whole system, and the original paper ballots are there as a check/recount. Most instances where paper based voting have been compromised are either detected at source, e.g. thugs stealing ballot boxes, or at distribution centres, as happened in the UK in a handful of sites a few years ago. Either way, it’s always obvious what’s going onl

        2. This point betrays a lack of understanding of coding principles and security. It’s practically impossible to maintain a bug free, totally secure code base over a long period of time – either for voting machines or voting websites. Also, that’s not the only form of security compromise available for anything connected to a network. There are many ways to totally compromise a large number of voters computer/phone systems or voting terminals remotely without even tampering with the voting system code. Just look at the massive continued security holes / compromises in Windows and Android systems.

        3. How does electronic voting ensure actual democracy? Would that prevent Brexit? No. You’re conflating awareness and understanding of issues with the mechanics of voting. They are different things. A population rendered impotent and poorly educated through Facebook, poor education (e.g. National Standards, UK / US style education etc) and a bought media will still potentially lead to a population that is being manipulated and lied too, and not well informed. How you actually cast your vote is a separate thing.

        How does retarded personal name calling further your points? Calling me a fuckwit who can’t understand reality is just childish as I’ve actually demonstrated reasoned argument, instead of your magical thinking where using supposedly cool tech = solve all democratic problems.

        @ SaveNZ – totally agree. I’ve seen the talent inside Council IT departments and it’s third rate at best. What’s worse is their business managers, who are charged with deciding this stuff, have no understanding of the limitations of technology e.g. witness the SAP / rating debacle at Auckland Council.

  21. Steve Bradley 22

    Postal voting was touted as likely to reverse the ever-decreasing turn-out in local government elections. It hasn’t done that. Turnout is low because a majority of working people have concluded that voting for local government will achieve no change to their situation.

    Various means can be used to change people’s minds: the most likely would be a consistent reality of genuine local collective control over their papakaianga. This will never happen without a fight. So long as the needs of the corporates prevail, citizen apathy will continue as a response to repeated defeats.

    Electronic voting is a voting method even more abstracted from citizens’ local collective control. It is the wrong answer to a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.

    But there’ll always be someone who wants to make a name for themselves with a fancy new gimmick or fashion. Funded by us.

    There is value in a collective ritual of citizens dropping by their polling place and casting their ballot. All the enrollment recording is already provided by central government.

    • Draco T Bastard 22.1

      Postal voting was touted as likely to reverse the ever-decreasing turn-out in local government elections. It hasn’t done that. Turnout is low because a majority of working people have concluded that voting for local government will achieve no change to their situation.

      IMO, low voting in local elections is more due to the fact that a lot of people simply forget and don’t get it back on time.

      Electronic voting is a voting method even more abstracted from citizens’ local collective control. It is the wrong answer to a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.

      Wrong.

      Online voting allows people easy access to reliable information on the decision being made and the expectations. If those expectations are met or didn’t get met can be made available as well. This means that they could make more informed decisions.

      Online voting can encompass possibilities that just aren’t possible on paper.

      But there’ll always be someone who wants to make a name for themselves with a fancy new gimmick or fashion. Funded by us.

      And there’s always fuckwits who don’t want change no matter how much the present system isn’t working.

      There is value in a collective ritual of citizens dropping by their polling place and casting their ballot.

      No there isn’t. Most people just see it as a waste of time. Partially because nothing changes anyway and partially because they think that they’ve got better things to do.

      • nukefacts 22.1.1

        More puerile name calling to people who disagree. Again, you’re conflating voting with education: “Online voting allows people easy access to reliable information on the decision being made and the expectations.” No, these are different things. By all means educate people about voting records of politicians etc, but that’s not the same as the mechanics of voting via paper or online.

        “Most people just see it as a waste of time.” The millennial and get-Z’s I’ve talked to were very energised by the previous national election and made a big effort to get out there and vote.

        Then you say “Partially because nothing changes anyway” – so tell us how e-voting will change that? Oh, it won’t.

  22. R.P Mcmurphy 23

    which councillors are pushing this.
    has there been a vote?
    should there not be a referendum first?
    this is a travesty of the democratic process if this occurs.

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