Democracy urgently needs a dose of tech
By Ian GRAYSON
Scrawling numbers on a piece of paper is a democratic right, but surely it's time to infuse a little more technology into our voting system.
Like all good voters, I lined up at my local polling place on Saturday morning to give my opinion on who should be running the country.
The first step was to tell my name to an official behind a makeshift desk (he didn't ask for any ID) and watch as he put a mark against my name in a volume of printed pages.
He then presented me with two pieces of paper and verbal instructions on how I should fill them out. I dutifully put numbers in all the squares and then dropped the papers into a cardboard box near the door.
Walking back to my car, it struck me that the process I'd just been through could not have had less technological involvement if it tried.
At least a state election I had voted in earlier in the year had used an electronic voter register. This was a step down even from that.
Why does it have to be this way? Surely registers can be kept in electronic form, thereby allowing easy checking to make sure this wasn't my fifth visit to a polling station in the same day. There's nothing to stop me doing that now.
And as for the vote casting itself, it's time to put some serious consideration into electronic voting terminals. I understand the security concerns, but a closed system (as it would be) could be made just as watertight as the current paper-based method - probably more so.
Electronic voting would also speed the process of getting a result. While it's fun to sit in front of the TV and watch the results come in, a far faster (and way less costly) method could be used.
Rather than waiting for days for a final result (as is now the case for Australia) the preferential system could divulge the winners within minutes.
According to the Australian Electoral Commission, the cost of staging the 2007 Federal election was an eye-watering $163,076,106. Just think how this figure could be reduced with the introduction of at least some technology into the process.
What do you think - worth considering?
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