The Victorian Electoral Commission has revealed that it is developing an open source e-voting system in time for the next state election in November 2014.
VEC project manager Craig Burton recently told Computerworld Australia that the new system will be implemented across early voting centres in time for the election and added that it will also be tested at potential by-elections in 2013.
The commission built the new system from scratch and, importantly, says that it is universally verifiable, which was apparently an issue with the previous electoral system, which was used from 2006 to 2010. Interestingly, this system was built by Spanish-company Scytl, which has been developing its own tablet voting system of late (see below).
This new system looks set to be on Android, as the VEC has experienced some issues with the prototype system on the iPad. The system will be a fully offline HTML5 app, run by a web server, and will also be able to print and scan voting ‘receipts’.
The voter will be given a two-sided receipt on entering the polling station and this form will be read by the ballot marker, which will be link to the tablet via a QR code. The voter then fills out their ballot using the tablet, and the slate (and attached printer) will in-turn print the candidate list and preference numbers onto the receipt. TabTimes is not familiar with voting in Victoria (the state uses a preferential voting system, the single transferable vote), but it would then seem that you take your vote home with you.
The system is primarily for those with visual impairments, although completely blind voters will use a HTML5 web page with 12 keys which, via the adhesive screen overlay on top of the display, will allow the voter to feel the keys and vote. A pair of headphones plugged into the tablet will inform the voter what buttons they are pressing.
Australian law stipulates that the new system should only be for those who are visually impaired or blind, motor impaired or for those who cannot read English. This accounts for about 400,000 voters in Victoria, but the VEC is also pushing for the system to be used by early voters, a move which could increase the number of users to about a million.