$1.9m online voting platform deal for NSW

Summary:Around 100,000 people are expected to vote online in the 2015 NSW State General Election, according to the state’s Electoral Commission, which has just inked a AU$1.86 million five-year deal with Spanish electronic voting platform company, Scytl.

The New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC) today announced it had inked a AU$1.86 million five-year deal with Spanish electronic voting platform company, Scytl, in a bid to accommodate up to 100,000 online voters on its iVote platform in the state's 2015 State General Election (2015 SGE).

The new deal will see Scytl support the state's iVote Core Voting System by providing the software development, licences, usage charges, software support, maintenance and upgrade enhancement services required for the 2015 SGE and six state by-elections up until 2019.

It substantially builds upon the limited iVote support Scytl provided for the NSW SGE in 2011, which saw fewer than 47,000 voters use the platform.

With the NSWEC receiving new funding for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years to implement and operate a new version of the iVote platform, it is now not only expected to provide access for many more voters, but also to allow eligible interstate and international voters cast their votes electronically.

However, a spokesperson for the NSWEC said that the existing restrictions to online voter eligibility that were established for the 2011 SGE will remain in place, unless decided otherwise by Parliament in the lead up to the 2015 election.

This includes blind, visually-impaired and disabled voters, or remote voters who live more than 20 kilometres from a polling booth.

A NSWEC iVote strategy document published in January said: "Depending on legislation, eligibility may also be extended to include other categories, such as those unable to get to a polling place on Election Day."

For NSWEC chief information officer, Ian Brightwell, the state will need to build public awareness of the platform in the lead up to the election.

"Public awareness and confidence in the iVote System is of paramount importance to ensure a smooth electoral process and reliable outcome," said Brightwell. "Scytl's experience and leading edge security and technology will provide peace of mind to the NSWEC and our stakeholders."

Victoria has also used Scytel's e-voting technology, in partnership with Hewlett-Packard , during its 2006 parliamentary elections, for voting terminals designed for people with disabilities.

Topics: Government : AU

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Leon covers enterprise technology and start-ups from ZDNet's Sydney newsroom.

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