Monday, 20 October 2008

technology meets the electoral process

 A small win for technology in the electoral process last Saturday at the ACT elections for a new territory government. 

Up to now the process has been resolutely nineteenth century, turn up, give your name to the electoral clerk, who then riffles through a massive bound listing of the electors' register, asks you to confirm your address, and rules off your entry to show you've voted and then hands you a ballot paper.

As voting's compulsory, I guess that some group of poor bastards had to collate all the entries to make sure all us good citizens had voted - preferably only once - and issue infringement notices for anyone who didn't and didn't have a good excuse.

Well last Saturday was different. Queue up, talk to the elections clerk who uses a wireless pda to confirm your registration details against the voter's database before handing you your ballot paper. No riffling, no collating. No costs for printing the electoral roll.

What's even nicer is that they borrowed the pda's from the Queensland electoral commission so no acquisition cost, just the software development and network costs.

What I especially liked about it was its sensible, low key, pragmatic use of technology and unlike voting machines with their endless complications and audit requirements, totally non-controversial.

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