It’s got my vote, literally

Just came back from voting in the ACT election. For the first time I got to use an electronic voting system. Well, not so much “got to” as “had to“.

The assistants all had a palm pilot where they tap in the voter’s name, tick that they have voted and hand them a little strip of cardboard with a barcode printed on it.

then you walk up to a booth, where a computer screen and numberpad await. Select a language using the down arrows and hit the enter key, then swipe the card through the reader. Tab through the parties until you find one with which you want to place a vote, hit the down arrows to select a candidate and then hit the enter key to assign the next numerical number. There’s even an undo button if you made a mistake.

Once you’re done assigning your votes, hit the finish button. This brings you to the final screen listing your preferences and where you cast your vote simply by swiping your barcode again. On the way out, you put the barcode in the box provided.

As far as I could tell there was no real way to match your barcode with your vote. But theoretically ‘they’ do know the order in which voters registered with any given assistant. ‘They’ could then match this against the order of the strips which the assistant was assigned. I.e. Voter number one got strip number one, which was assigned barcode 58610. Voter two got strip number 58611. Then again I guess that’s trivial to do with a piece of paper too. Not that I care who knows my vote anyway.

It seemed quite smooth. I’m sure it will make tallying up the result much easier, but I can say for certain that it is not easier than a piece of paper and a pencil.

2 Responses to “It’s got my vote, literally”


  • I’m more concerned that there seems to be no auditing capability in the above. How do scutineers look over the results? How do you know that when you voted 1 for Osama, 2 for Saddam, that 1 for Osama and 2 for Saddam ended up in the computer, and can’t be changed later?

    I hope this isn’t the way the rest of Australia is going to go down.

  • True, I guess you have to trust the software and the people who wrote it. I wonder whether the process is transparent, or whether it’s the lovechild of some proprietary software company.

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