Voters go to the polls online

An election is underway in Australia - but it has nothing to do with our major political parties. Nor is the traditional ballot box involved. An IT organisation has set up a system to allow its members to vote for a new Board of Directors online.

The Australian Information Industry Association hopes to be a forerunner in Internet elections.

"There's a high expectation that we're a bit of a leader, therefore AIIA needs to be at the forefront of this technology," an AIIA spokesperson told ZDNet.

This is the first Internet election hosted by in Australia, the AIIA's election service provider, and hopes that news of AIIA's lead will spread through the rest of the Australian market.

"If it shows that the leaders of the IT industry have confidence in the technology we're able to offer and puts a stamp of credibility on our services, more organisations will move online," Australia's MD Frank Nesci said.

"There's definitely an interest from the Australian public to vote online if they're given the opportunity," Nesci said, "but those opportunities haven't been give to them yet".

AIIA agrees that the public in general is keen to move elections online.

Its members were given option to participate in the electoral process by post but "no one took us up on that," AIIA said. believes that it's inevitable that public elections will be driven online in Australia, although the Australian Electral Commission (AEC) said "it's definitely not likely to happen at the next elections".

In applying online elections at a Federal level, the AEC said "there's a number of issues that make it difficult in terms of integrity and security".

Democrats Senator Kate Lundy, an enthusiast of moving elections online, also expressed reservations in areas of privacy, security and the digital divide, but said she encouraged "both public and private organisations in exploring the technology to make their own democratic processes more efficient".

AIIA claims that outsourcing its online elections has proved to be a cost-effective and efficient solution to previous, traditional methods.

"It goes beyond giving you peace of mind that the election service is being handled appropriately," the AIIA spokesperson said.

"AIIA is pleased to be able to showcase the capability of the information industry. Organisations that want to increase participation in elections, especially where geography is a barrier, really should consider the technology," AIIA's executive director, Rob Durie, said.


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