NSW Electoral Commission invites tenders for iVote system

The state's electoral authority has put out a request for tender to develop, implement, deploy, and provide support for its remote e-voting system.

The New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC) this week invited expressions of interest for IT organisations to develop, implement, deploy, and provide support for iVote, its remote electronic voting system.

iVote was first introduced in the 2011 NSW General Election for members of the vision impaired and rural communities who find it difficult to vote using traditional means, going to tender for its initial development in June 2010. It is now being updated prior to the next state election, which is due to take place in 2015.

According to the tender documents, the web interface for the system should be designed for usage with the current major version, and one version previous, of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox at the time of the election, as well as Safari on iOS, IE on Windows Phone, and Chrome on Android. An app can be proposed as an alternative to a web-based interface, but the app must support the last three major releases of iOS and Android.

iVote will also have a phone-based interface, which will support the resumption of a "voting session" for a given vote number, should the session be interrupted or ended prematurely by the voter.

No permanent record of all information involved in the voting process is stored centrally, with the voter retaining an iVote number and PIN. The system is designed such that any tampering with votes would involve breaches of two or more systems.

"This checking process can only be subverted if both systems [the separate core and audit systems] are compromised in a harmonised way and the tampering was not evident in the logs," the documents state.

As outlined in the NSW Budget in June, the electoral commission was allocated AU$3.2 million over two years to upgrade its IT infrastructure for the March 2015 election, with a further AU$3.6 million given over two years to implement and deploy the electronic voting system.

Voters eligible to use the system include members of the blind and low-vision community, as well as those who live farther than 20 kilometres from a polling place. In the 2011 state election, around 46,800 people, or 1.1 percent of all voters, used iVote. A subsequent analysis found that 94 percent of iVote's users were satisfied with the system.

Last month, the NSWEC also went to tender seeking 5,000 to 5,900 Android tablets running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher, for use by the NSW, Queensland, and Victorian electoral commissions. NSW and Victoria are each seeking 1,500 tablets, with Queensland looking to purchase between 2,000 and 2,500 tablets.

According to those tender documents, the tablets would be implemented for the purposes of electoral roll lookups, form completion, and electoral staff training.

The tablets would also be used to aid the vision-impaired community, with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) having developed an in-house Android application specifically for those voters. The app will require high-specification tablets, and if the base tablets are not capable of running it, the VEC would seek a further 400 tablets for that purpose.

Expressions of interest for the NSWEC iVote system are to be submitted by December 17, 2013.