back to article Turnbull floats e-vote, compulsory ID

Incoming communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has offered up his first post-election policy thought-bubble, suggesting that Australia should adopt electronic voting kiosks and compulsory identification for voters. Speaking to ABC TV, Turnbull said the high level of informal (that is, invalid or incorrectly-cast) votes is …


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  1. LaeMing

    The senate vote paper, with 110 (for NSW) candidates is a real pig - I had to do mine twice, and am still worried I was informal!

    No, I don't vote above the line - I have serious moral objections to the vote-trading that goes on amongst parties - if the parties were distributing their preferences according to who else has a similar/compatible/complimentary platform, it would be fine, but they actually distribute preferences on a mutual-back-scratching system, so if you let your preferred party choose your preferences you are quite likely to end up voting high for raving loonies simply because said loonies agreed to send preferences back. I am pretty sure that isn't how above-the-line was intended to be used!

    1. Esskay

      According to Antony Green's blog, there's a 10% allowance of errors if voting below the line- if you put a number out of sequence or double up one or two numbers, the vote is still considered formal. You can also vote both above *and* below the line, and the below the line vote takes preference - if it's invalid, then the above the line vote counts.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Not quite. You are allowed to leave up to 10% of the boxes empty if you vote below the line in the senate, and the AEC will still consider your ballot to be formal.

        As for other errors when voting below the line, you are allowed up to three breaks in sequence or duplicated preferences, unless it's your first preference, of which there must be one and only one.

        1. Esskay

          Thanks for the clarification :) Sadly I only discovered this on the night of the election - after I already voted, and I'll probably forget it by the time the next election comes around...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Not quite. You are allowed to leave up to 10% of the boxes empty if you vote below the line in the senate, and the AEC will still consider your ballot to be formal. As for other errors when voting below the line, you are allowed up to three breaks in sequence or duplicated preferences, unless it's your first preference, of which there must be one and only one."

          By the sound of it, the Oz voting system is already complex and well ***ed. Why the fuss about proposals to make it worse? As with most "democracies", the end result flip flops between a couple of barely distinguishable major parties, who only ever act in their own interests and beliefs, and then seem to have a like mind on (for example) spying on their own population, unleashing a never ending torrent of poorly thought through legislation, and persistently failing to manage either the economy or the budget.

          At least you've got mostly sunny weather, and Chinese commodity demand to keep the economy afloat.

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Ledswinger

            Those conditions are only there as a kind of failsafe, to ensure that a slight mistake on the elector's behalf doesn't make their ballot informal. The assumption when counting is always that the elector was trying to cast a formal ballot and wanted their vote to be counted. Those conditions are not, on their own, voting rules. If you fill your ballot paper correctly those assessment criteria aren't even invoked, and in some states not even 5% of senate ballot papers are filled below the line anyway.

            Now, if you're suggesting that a system that requires these conditions to ensure that electors aren't unfairly disenfranchised is ridiculous, then I fully agree. The "above the line" option was introduced about 25 years ago as a concession to voters given the increasing number of candidates, but it, and the preference deals struck between parties around the above the line votes, are now out of control. Antony Green's been on that case for years but nobody seemed to be paying attention, though with any luck this year's debacle (>1m long ballot papers and fresnel lenses in polling booths?!) will kick someone in to action.

            1. bep

              Re: Ledswinger

              It seems to me that a suitable solution would be require voters to number all the boxes above the line. That way people would at least have to read the name of the party they are preferencing and they might decide not to vote for the "Release more pigs in national parks" party etc after all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Electronic voting will make fraud much easier.

      Population 2.8 million

      Votes cast 6.2 Million

      And the winner is, by a margin of 95%.........

      1. Anonymous C0ward

        ..........Sodoff Baldrick, of the Adder Party.

    3. Adam 1

      I wouldn't mind with two changes

      I actually like mandatory polling booth attendance, which minimises the risk of cronies threatening people from attending polling booths, but there are two glaring ways in which the system is manipulated right now.

      Firstly, with 110 candidates, how should I know where specifically to preference the bee keepers for higher buildings party. It is a surprisingly difficult and meaningless task to rank them. Above the line voting simplified it but parties figured out how to game the system by creating preference deals amongst themselves. In my view, scrap above the line, and allow the citizen to fill from 1 to 6 (for half senate) or 1 to 12 (for full senate).

      Secondly, there is too much advantage of being first column on the page. A bunch of gun nutters won a huge portion of NSW because their name vaguely sounded like one of the main parties and they happened to draw first on the page. This is somewhere electronic voting could help (they could display the candidates in random order). Even with paper based voting it could be minimised by having different candidate orders (not at the same polling booths for practicality during counting, but it could be done for different booths to average out the donkey).

  2. ocratato

    None of the above

    They would get a lot fewer "informal" votes if there was an option to select none of the above.

    The informal vote was much higher in the western Sydney region which is typically a Labor stronghold. My guess is that a lot of voters did not want to support Labor this time, but could not bring themselves to vote for the Libs either.

    1. Esskay

      Re: None of the above

      I worked for the AEC a few years ago ticking names off and counting votes - the number of informal votes due to incorrect marking was probably lower than the number of donkeys drawn on ballot papers.

      1. bep

        Re: None of the above

        Exactly, because voting is compulsory some people just take the ballot and make a deliberate informal vote. It's kind of surprising there isn't more fraud considering you don't have to show any ID, but the fact is fraud isn't a big issue in Australian elections and there is nothing to be said for fixing a problem that doesn't exist.

        1. dan1980

          Re: None of the above

          Voting is mandatory but moreover is a right of all Australian citizens. Having photo ID, however, is NOT mandatory as we are not (yet) a police state with internal passports and are not required to have our documents with us at all times.

          I had an argument with one of the polling officials a few years back when they asked me for my driver's license. I told them I didn't drive (whether or not I do is irrelevant). He then told me I couldn't vote. I asked him if only people who drive were allowed to vote, which confused him for a bit. He then asked if I had a proof of age card and I told him that I didn't drink either. (I so do - far more than my doctor is comfortable with.)

          He called over the person with the most impressive lanyard, whom I then continued to argue with off to one side. She confirmed that I needed photo ID and wouldn't budge from that position. I asked her what would happen if I didn't vote and she said I would get a fine. I pointed out that I was in effect being fined for not having a photo ID and that that was rather odd seeing as there is no legal requirement to have a photo ID.

          I told her that I had never needed photo ID to vote before and she said that that those were the rules and that was that. I got a fine and replied with the explanation that my polling official had prevented me voting. Never heard a thing back.

          Not that it mattered as my seat is about as safe as a set can be.

          Now the real TL;DR....

          It is fundamentally un-constitutional to require people to have a photographic ID in order to vote. While the question of whether the constitution does in fact guarantee the right to vote was up for debate for a long time, it was fairly much settled in the affirmative in late 2007; Australian citizens have a constitutional right to vote.

          Section 41 of the Constitution states that no adult with the right to vote for at the state level shall be prevented by any Commonwealth law from voting in federal elections. That of course dates from the colonial period but taken with s7 and s21, and the (relatively) recent judicial interpretation that they do in fact guarantee the right to vote, the Constitution states that no law shall prevent people from voting.

          Constitutional rights have legal primacy and cannot be changed or negated by legislation.

          Passing legislation that REQUIRES people to show photographic identification has the side effect that anyone without such ID would then be denied their now confirmed constitutional right to vote.

          You might say that the requirement to enrol to vote is therefore unconstitutional and that you should be able to vote without enrolling. It's not been tested but you can indeed vote without enrolling, which is called a 'declaration vote'. Exactly how that works I am not sure but whatever.

          Sure, having photo ID might be a requirement of setting up a PO Box but then access to a PO box is not, so far as I am aware, a constitutional right.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: None of the above

      He's right about one thing. The e-voting machines I've encountered simply don't allow you to submit an informal ballot, even if you want to.

  3. Tim99 Silver badge

    So it begins

    Oh dear! So it begins

  4. ops4096

    undemocratic swill

    This thought bubble is straight out of the American Republicans playbook. As in America there is no problem with vote fraud but lets disenfranchise the homeless unemployed Labour voters who have no photo I.D.'s just because we can. Using the American example Voting Machines are totally corruptible using completely unauditable closed source corpratz devices to transparently rig the electoral process. While we're at it lets get rid of compulsory voting as well why don't we. Australia clearly doesn't know what they've let themselves in for because these aristo's refused to discus any substantive policies or costings.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: undemocratic swill

      That's us. Fucking things up for everyone else.

      We have become the guy no one wants at parties. Something is guaranteed to be broken, burning or missing when we leave.

    2. andro

      Re: undemocratic swill

      We now know the NSA have been working with American security companies to weaken security systems and insert back doors. I would say its VERY likely that diebold are part of this, and the system is more open to corruption than we thought. Either turnbul is in on it, or ignorant. Eitherway we need to make sure this does not happen. We should never allow electronic voting on closed systems, or systems imported from anywhere else.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: undemocratic swill

        I would say its VERY likely that diebold are part of this

        I don't think it's especially likely. Diebold have consistently shown themselves unable to engineer systems that are secure in any sense - they're easy to subvert, unreliable even when not subverted, impossible to audit, etc. There's no need for the NSA to suborn actors who are already incompetent.

    3. EvanPyle

      Re: undemocratic swill

      Let me get this right, you have large corporation running the voting process and your are sure the vote is rigged? Why did the Republicans loose to Obama, after defending the presidency, and then keep loosing ever since?

  5. FlatEarther
    Big Brother

    Forced to vote for one of these morons

    Why bother with elections at all if Malcolm is so sure why people vote informal. If he knows so much about (non) voters motivations, he can just select the next government without our assistance. Or, perhaps it's because at least 3% of the population don't want any of the nutters who offer themselves up?

    He's actually suggesting that we bee forced to select one (in fact all, since we have to complete all boxes for the vote to be formal) of the magnificent specimens we're presented with every three years. You've got to be joking. My choice was Kevin supporter, dumb liberal, right wing Katter, even more right wing Clive, even more right wing "Family First", even further right wing shooter. Beam me up!

    And as for electronic voting, even Malcolm must be able to google just enough to understand that

    - There are huge security problems

    - It has the potential to destroy the anonymity of the vote

    - The US, which was an early adopter, is abandoning electronic voting in many areas

    - It costs more, not less

    There is no problem. Does Malcolm have shares in Diebold? We've got rid of one arrogant narcissist. Let's hope we're not getting a replacement.

    1. Frank Oz

      Re: Forced to vote for one of these morons

      I'm with you.

      For the Lower House in my electorate I had a choice between the two major parties (both of which disgust me), a couple of fundamentalist Christian loons, a Family Party guy (another fundamentalist loon), and a couple of myopic single purpose candidates whose policies were so far 'out there' that they were technically unelectable. For the Senate (unless I voted 'above the line for one of the major parties) I had to make a choice between 100 odd (and many were really 'odd') candidates most of whom I would prefer seeing consigned to Her Majesty's Pleasure rather than the Senate.

      I simply decided to fold up both pieces of paper without despoiling them with my vote, and whack them in the boxes. My 'informal' vote was therefore a protest vote ... but thanks to the politicians in this country who won't allow the protest vote to be counted as anything but 'informal' on election night, we'll never know how many like minded people there were on 7 September.

  6. RedneckMother

    Let's call Diebold ...

    ... Let's not, but say we did...

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Let's call Diebold ...

      I think the saying ' To err is human, to really screw up requires a computer' applies to Diebold.

  7. Don Jefe

    Bright Side

    If nothing else, how many of you knew the word 'psephologist'?

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Bright Side

      Thanks to Antony Green's well deserved popularity, yours is a question that comes up every three years!

  8. Winkypop Silver badge

    Yeah right Mal!

    Haven't you got an NBN to hobble?

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Bubba Von Braun

    No Money

    There is never any money for the AEC anyway. In an environment where they are slashing public service jobs, the millions required for eVoting won’t happen.

    Having worked for the AEC for many decades, these fantasies claims come and go, I still enjoy those clever satirical notes or replacement of all the candidates with V8 super car drivers. Lightens what is a very long day for those involved.

    As far as informal, any rise there is likely due to people don’t want to vote for any of the candidates. so they simply lodge a blank ballot. And its compulsory attendance, you don’t have to vote for anyone, just put the blank ballot in the box and you done. (actually if you want you simply walk out...

    A final thought.. the REAL reason Malcolm wants your to be forced to lodge a valid vote is the first preference gets ~$3 per ballot.. so if all the informal votes were formal that’s nearly $2Mil!!


    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: No Money

      Do you still work for AEC?

      Can you ask them why voters in TAS and NT are worth twice as much as those in ACT?


  11. Ralph B

    Call Florida

    They could fix all this nonsense by adopting Florida's new voting machine.

  12. Cliff

    Finger pointing and misdirection

    Yeah, we have a human problem, only machines can solve it. Machines designed by... Oh wait....

    Voting may be an involved process, but someone designed it trying to make it some kind of fair and balanced. A simple "I don't trust any of you but you made me waste a morning choosing between you" box would speed things up for the disenfranchised to have a disenfranchised box.

  13. AndrewG

    I voted informally (and I don't mean I forgot to wear shoes)

    Personally I was so blown away by Abbott and Rudd that I had no intention of voting for either party and felt more than a little depressed that any vote I cast would eventually be preferenced over to one of those losers.

    So I intentionally cast an informal ballot so the AEC and by extension our political parties understand that I voted a big FU to both parties at this time.

    Naturally the likes of Turnball would see this as a "mistake" I just can't believe they are talking about voting machines after thier long and spotty history - one of the best tings about Australian democracy was the paper ballots.

  14. Vociferous

    At least one thing is clear:

    ...the new Australian government is getting its strategy advise from US right wing think tanks.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    In shock news the Telecommunications Minister turns out to be an ignorant dick

    Quite remarkably like the last one in fact.

    And what's this about ID.

    Do all Australians have an identity card? Or rather he would like all Australians to have one?

  16. A J Stiles

    First thing Australia needs

    The first electoral reform Australia needs is to introduce a proper way to record an abstention.

    You are no freer in a society where voting is compulsory, than in a society where there is no voting. And the compulsory vote is wide-open to abuse -- a person who knew what they were doing could get themself elected on the compulsory vote alone.

    The beauty of pencil and paper for voting is that everyone can understand them -- and if everyone can understand the paraphernalia used in an election, everyone can potentially be a scrutineer. When you get rid of pencil and paper, you get rid of universal comprehensibility. Even if the plans and the firmware for the machines are published and they are available for inspection whenever not being used in an election, it is still going to be only a minority of the population who can verify that the machines are built to the drawings -- and there is still no way to verify that the machines or software are exactly as you examined.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: First thing Australia needs

      I'm not the world's biggest fan of compulsory voting, but...

      "You are no freer in a society where voting is compulsory, than in a society where there is no voting."

      I've heard some ridiculous things in my time. This is one of them.

  17. poopypants

    I have a problem with Mr Turnbull

    Firstly he wanted to ditch Her Majesty, which was bad enough.

    Now he wants to destroy our cherished tradition of being able to draw crude penises on our ballot papers using government supplied pencils.

    The man is obviously some kind of anarchist.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge


      Just take in a rattle can and a stencil for all your crude penis art needs.

  18. korikisulda

    Surely the cost and inconvenience of paper voting

    Is completely outweighed by the potential for fraud in an electronic version? It's easy enough in traditional voting as it is...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The article says voting is compulsory - and a friend is not allowed to vote "honestly" in your place. So what currently happens to people on holiday, taken ill, or unexpectedly away from their home state on voting day?

    1. The Blacksmith

      Re: Sickies

      You can vote anywhere in australia, or at an australian embassy, consulate or misson anywhere in the world. If you know you are not (or may not) be able to vote on election day you can pre-poll either in person or my mail several weeks before the election (Basically once the candidates are confirmed). My parents were on the sunny Mediterranean on election night and so pre-polled several weeks ago.

      These votes are counted last, I.e. only if they could change the outcome of the election.

      If given all these choices you still didn't attend to your duty you will receive a fine of about $50.

      Strangely enough practically all Australian do conscientiously attend to voting. At the polling places there are the usual rabble who want to hand out "how to vote" cards. Most people have already made up their mind, and either don't want one, or only take the one for the party they so desire.

      Of course, deciding to vote informally shows that the person has made a serious effort in understanding the candidates, their policies, and possible decided that they are all bat shit crazy. It is a valid choice. the difference between allowing compulsory voting (including informals) and optional voting is simple. If you decide to vote informally you have still looked at the candidates, and thought about it.

      I generally start voting from both ends. I know who goes first, and who goes last. It's the great unwashed in the middle that is so bloody hard to order :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sickies

        "At the polling places there are the usual rabble who want to hand out "how to vote" cards."

        Thanks for the explanation.

        In England it is, or certainly used to be, illegal to try to influence a person entering a polling station. There was time when a policeman was stationed outside every polling station. Tellers trying to track their Parties' supporters were warned not to ask people for their Electoral Roll number until after they had voted. Otherwise they could be accused of trying to influence them.

        Nowadays the few party tellers seem to have forgotten that rule and premptorily ask for you number as you enter.

  20. DrXym

    Pesky paper trails

    Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with e-voting but it has to be tamper proof and it has to be backed up by a paper record so that voters can verify that their vote has been recorded, to act as a secondary counting mechanism if the first fails (e.g. the hard disk is corrupted before votes can be counted), to detect fraud and to conduct audits.

    Some proportional representation systems are so horrifically complex with rounds of recounts that they'd probably benefit more from e-voting than first past the post systems where normally just one count is necessary.

    1. Mike Dimmick

      Re: Pesky paper trails

      There is no proof that what the computer has recorded internally is the same as what the voter selected, and what is printed on the audit trail. That fundamental lack of ability to see how the machine is operating means that it cannot ever be trustworthy.

      1. DrXym

        Re: Pesky paper trails

        "There is no proof that what the computer has recorded internally is the same as what the voter selected, and what is printed on the audit trail. That fundamental lack of ability to see how the machine is operating means that it cannot ever be trustworthy."

        Yes there are. Print out a receipt. Voter checks the receipt for correctness and sticks it in a box. The receipt could include a barcode or id code which allows the vote to be tallied with its electronic equivalent. Any amount of checking and validation is possible thereafter to whatever accuracy criteria is desired.

        1. A J Stiles

          Re: Pesky paper trails

          All you've done there is move the problem somewhere else. You might have receipt no. 52369 showing a vote for candidate A; all you can be sure of is that the machine recorded a vote for A against 52369 in one of its databases. You don't know that there isn't another database, where 52369 voted for candidate B. Worse, if there is any kind of identifying information on the receipt, and it is anywhere outside the voter's own possession, then it might be possible to link the vote back to the voter. That would compromise the secrecy of the ballot. The whole point, as alluded to above, is that every ballot paper filled the same way must be indistinguible from any other ballot paper filled in the same way. That is the only way the anonymity of the ballot paper can be preserved.

          Anyway, even if the voter keeps the receipt and has to take it to the Town Hall to check it, it still doesn't work. Consider this scenario:

          Candidate A receives 500 votes, B receives 390 and C receives 110. But the announced result, however, is A 380, B 500, C 120. You voted for A. You go with your receipt to the Town Hall to check how your vote was recorded, and are correctly told you voted for A. And that’s as far as you can take the matter.

          Even if all 499 of the other people who voted for A go and check, they’ll be told — rightly — that their vote was for A. And because (1) they all go in one at a time to check their vote, and (2) there are also many B- and C-voters in there, not one single one of the A-voters will be the slightest bit the wiser that there are really 500 of them, as opposed to the 380 that was announced!

          1. DrXym

            Re: Pesky paper trails

            "All you've done there is move the problem somewhere else. "

            Not at all. There are two copies of the vote, one electronic, one paper. Enough voters will have checked their paper slip when it was printed to be sure it has not been compromised. It is straightforward to tally the electronic record and compare it to the paper one. Random auditing, independent counting / verification of the same data. Anything.

            1. A J Stiles

              Re: Pesky paper trails

              I've explained above why that does not work. You cannot trust the machine to make a correct copy and you cannot trust the machine to verify whether some supposed copy is accurate. All you are ever doing is moving the problem. You never know whether the machine is telling the truth or lying. One of the copies of the data is dispersed among the electorate, and also incomplete as some receipts are bound to get lost or destroyed, accidentally or on purpose. Another copy is in the machine's memory where the only way to access it is via the machine. None of the other copies you may have made count for squat anyway, you can see clearly enough that they are all the same as each other; whether or not those two "end" copies are the same is all that matters. And one is incomplete and the other one is untrustworthy.

              Protest all you like but there's no way bolting on additional layers is going to fix this, because it's inherent. The token has been copied and the copy can't be verified, and that is the problem. All you know is, you've got something that matches the original token: The voters' receipts. Well, I suppose you could have the voters get two receipts, and leave one in a box in the polling station, to be counted manually. But if so, what was the freaking point of using the machines in the first place?

              1. The Blacksmith

                Re: Pesky paper trails

                The point of the machines is to simplify the general case of things. The machine can help ensure that you have performed a valid vote, and does a count, BUT the machine count is NOT the definitive count. The final arbiter is the paper copy, placed into the election box by the voter.

                The advantage of the machine is ONLY in helping the voter get the "rules" right. To ensure the correct number of boxes are ticked, or numbered in sequence, whatever the appropriate rule is. This will reduce the number of mistakenly spoilt votes. In which case you might as well let the voter print out their ballot at home and bring it already completed.

                You have an electronic version and a paper version. You do random audits on these to ensure that the machine and paper counts are the same. Therefore you have a level of confidence that the paper and electronic counts are the same without having to manually count all the paper ballots. Trying to return a different electronic count will result in an audit turning up a discrepancy which will eventually out the whole system. Actually, there always seems to be one scrutineers who is totally anally retentive and will do a complete count (for their candidate), so differences should be picked up quickly.

                However, there is always the problem of spoilt paper ballots, the spilled cup of coffee/water, the lost ballot box, the extra ballot box. Machine voting is still susceptible to all of these problems.

                1. A J Stiles

                  Re: Pesky paper trails

                  No, no, no, no, no. How many times do I have to point this out?

                  The actual vote is A: 500, B: 390, C: 110. The machine says A: 380, B: 500, C: 120. You were always expecting a close race between candidates A and B with C the outsider, so that result is still plausible enough for nobody to question it; and anyway, enough of the voters' receipts will have gone missing to be unable to verify against them.

                  A few random audits aren't going to be enough. You have to check every single result to be sure. And if you're keeping paper ballots in the polling station, then you might just as well count those and get rid of the machines, because they don't help.

    2. A J Stiles

      Re: Pesky paper trails

      Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with e-voting

      Yes there is. Two things, at least:

      1. It is not Universally Comprehensible.

      2. It relies on token copying, which is inherently broken.

      Proper way to do it: You have a token which is unique to you (poll card) which you exchange for a non-unique token (ballot paper) indistinguible from any other of its type. You mark the non-unique token in one of a finite number of ways (casting your vote); it now remains indistinguible from any other token marked up in the same way. The actual, marked-up tokens are counted (ideally, manually, and by the candidates themselves and/or their appointed representatives; since none of them trust each other, the only result they can agree on is the truth).

      There is no way to be certain that a machine is actually recording a vote for the candidate it says it is. It can show on the screen a vote for candidate A, it can print out a receipt showing a vote for candidate A; but if it has recorded a vote for candidate B internally, there is no way to know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pesky paper trails

        "You have a token which is unique to you (poll card) which you exchange for a non-unique token (ballot paper) indistinguible from any other of its type."

        I believe that in England the ballot paper has a serial number which is recorded against your name on the "voted" sheets. These paper documents are then stored in an archive for a considerable number of years. Older friends just after the war were concerned that a totalitarian government would be able to correlate these records for the purpose of political purges.

  21. Justicesays

    "His intent was clear"

    "Once the election was called, the number of people who told me they would get someone else to vote for me.. [was shocking]"

    Sounds like he was surprised how many people would vote for a right wing loony like himself really.

    There is a major difference between a small amount of electoral fraud committed by a few individuals, and the large scale electoral fraud enabled by electronic voting machines.

    Given the compulsory voting, I would be very hesitant to pursue that course. The is a real possibility that disgruntled hackers who get pissed off with now having to vote (new ID checks) and having to vote for one of these assholes (no more spoiled votes) will go out of their way to ruin your elections. And then play the justified civil disobedience card if caught.

    Interesting that when faced with a situation where a large number of people are a) getting people to vote for them without formal proxies (as they don't allow those) and b) spoiling their vote due to forced voting and a lack of a formal "none of the above" option, his response is to try to stop the informal proxy voting (instead of making it much easier and official) and force valid votes (instead of adding a "none of the above" box).

    1. KayKay
      Big Brother

      Re: "His intent was clear"

      No, he just doesn't understand his own language. If I say I'll get someone else to vote for you, that means I will talk X into voting for you. Not that they will vote in my place. OR if they intend to vote informal anyway, they may as well get a friend to get their name ticked off for them. That does NOT mean the friend will

      actually go in and vote. Even this is highly unlikely, as there are only 2 or 3 list-checkers in every polling place, so the one person can't claim to be several.

      If you're not crossed off, the worse that happens is a $60 fine, which you get out of by writing back your car broke down on the way to vote. Besides Malcolm lives in one of the richest electorates of Australia, where his party wins about 80% of the votes, no matter what. So it doesn't matter about 3 or 4 who "vote fraudulently but they do it honestly ".

      His party also for many years , ie every time they get in power, pushes for a National Identification Card. Surprised he brought it up so soon. The last reincarnations were going to be a $300000billion IT monstrosity involving facial recognitions databases, that viewers of your photo ID card would not be allowed to verify you against. Said card was also to include your health data, available to nobody as you hold the only password , oh, but, somehow in an emergency, if you were unconscious, the hospital would be able to access it by miracle. It wold also serve as your pensioner concession card but without anything written on it to say so, but not every provider would have to have a scanner.... and a few other well through out details.

      Going to be an interesting few years.....

  22. Mystic Megabyte

    Make voting worthwhile

    There are a zillion poker machines in OZ so convert some to voting machines.

    Send everyone a plastic token with a unique RFID chip in it.

    Go to pub, insert token, pull the handle and elect a random candidate. They will be as much use as any other choice.

    If your numbers come up you win a million dollars.

    Simple eh!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Make voting worthwhile

      You could do it like ancient Athens - where everyone was a candidate by default. The jackpot makes you an "elected" representative. Gives a random selection of the whole population in Parliament.

  23. flibbertigibbet

    Just to put things into context

    I don't know what Turnbull is proposing, but my guess it isn't Diebold. Or if it is, we can assume his department will educate him.

    Electronic voting can be reasonably secure. There are voting schemes that are "end to end" verifiable, meaning that every voter can verify their vote was counted accurately, and they manage to pull that off while preserving anonymity. Google "end to end verifiable voting" if you are courious. These schemes were developed in about 2009. You don't need a math or computer background to understand them.

    Victoria was/is in the developing voting machines based on such a scheme. As I recall the major driving force was to make voting possible for non-english speakers and the disabled, but when confronted with a federal senate ballot most Australian's feel intellectually feeble. And to answer one criticism above, yes these machines DO allow an informal vote.

    As for Turnbull's ID proposal - he hasn't thought it through. It can't be something you only use to vote, because no one will remember to bring it. It has to be a photo ID or other biometric, otherwise your friends can still borrow your ID and vote for you. Hmmm. Sounds like an Australia card, all over again.

    The solution for the senate debacle is simple. Enforce preferential voting, below the line. But you only get to number 6 boxes - the 6 people you want to represent your state.

    1. The Blacksmith

      Re: Just to put things into context

      I agree. The whole question, nay, the real question, is this a problem, or is it just a furfey for something more sinister?

      If all they wanted was a way to reduce accidental invalid ballots then a "print at home" method would be simpler.

      Fill in your ballot at home, print out your ballot. Take it (folded) to the voting place, have the election official initial it to ensure it is a "valid" vote, put into box. Heck, you could even have it printed in an easy to scan format. No nasty cryptography, just plain words on paper. When counting it is treated as like every other ballot.

      You could have a web form that presented the papers and let you fill them in and print them easily enough. The only difference between this and the current system is that the paper inserted into the box is not the special ballot paper, but a printed at home paper.

    2. FlatEarther

      Re: Just to put things into context

      But what is the problem? Malcolm hasn't demonstrated one. He has demonstrated contempt for voters. Why not fix that problem first, before creating a solution to a non existent one.

  24. Tom 13

    ...requires all numbers to be marked ...

    Or you could just reform your election process to one that makes sense...

    Nah, that would never work.

    1. The Blacksmith

      Re: ...requires all numbers to be marked ...

      The election process make perfect sense. In essence Australia has a multi-round election with one ballot. I am always amused by some countries where the "election" has multiple rounds, with candidates being eliminated after each round. It must be tedious voting up to N-1 times if there are N candidates.

      The Australian system uses the system of preferences for the voter to say if X was eliminated then I'd go for Y out of the remainder, and so on until it's down to two left, and one then has to get more than 50% (excepting ties of course). Now whether people understand what they are doing is another problem, but that's a whole different kettle of fish.

      A simple majority with an N way ballot is easily manipulated. Just add additional candidates who espouses EXACTLY the same policies as your opposition. Opposition vote is diluted, you get more, you win! profit! Yahoo!

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Easily solved by a single *addition* to the ballot list at the very bottom.


    You have voted.

    You have stated your opinion.

    How that result is interpreted if that option is winning is a more difficult question.

    Just a thought.

  26. earl grey

    I have long recommended a "none of the above"

    With the proviso that when "none" is the winning vote; all the clowns in that catergory are then prohibited for further polluting the ballot for at least 10 years. It would rid the elections of a majority of idiots in a few short years and the parties; should they hope to survive; would be forced to put forth some truly viable candidates who aren't some fringe nutcase bought by whatever big business or lobbyist group wants to contol them.

  27. GKLR

    Just another thought grenade from TurnBULL

    Two points:

    1) Paper doesn't break and still works when there is no power and no Internet connection. This is the sort of thing the AEC has to think about outside places like Malcolm's seat of Wentworth in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

    2) What make's Malcolm think that all these informal votes are accidental? It is not illegal to only want to vote for one candidate or none of them, but Australia's democratic voting process does not provide a formal way to say 'I don't want any of these w**kers'..

    Perhaps the Minister for Murdoch would find his time better spent nobbling the Productivity Commission's audit of Labour's NBN? After all it would be embarrassing if it came out that replacing Australia's copper telecommunications access network with a fibre based one was a more cost effective, productive, plan than the Coalition's cunning idea of putting an ADSL 2+ box on the corner in every city electorate where they might get votes. No, can't have that sort of thing.....

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Just another thought grenade from TurnBULL

      "This is the sort of thing the AEC has to think about outside places like Malcolm's seat of Wentworth in the eastern suburbs of Sydney."

      There isn't a women's prison there by any chance?

      1. KayKay

        Re: Just another thought grenade from TurnBULL

        In Vaucluse? Woollahra? Double Bay? doubt it.

  28. Neoc

    Tell you what:

    Get the AEC to introduce a "None of the above" option - <deity> knows I could have used one this time around. Let the politicians know exactly how many people think they are utter morons. Here's another thought - if, after the introduction of the above, no candidate manages to get the requisite percentage of votes then ALL candidates in that district are barred from running for office for this election and the next, and a second election is called with new candidates. (yes, it might be painful the first few years, but how quickly do you think the politicos would get the idea?)

    Having said all of that, I used a wonderful site called "Below The Line" which allowed me to see who the candidates were for my locale (both local and senate) with links to their web-sites. I could then move the candidates up and down the list and at the end of the night print out a cheat-sheet which listed the candidates in the same order as the official ballot paper and with my preference already filled in. It was then a matter of simply going down the groups and copying the numbers. Made things easy and ensured I wasn't duplicating/leaving out a number along the way.

  29. Glen Turner 666

    ID is pointless

    Let's simply ink the fingers of people as they vote. No ID required. It's compulsory voting, so assuming that any adult presenting themselves with a uninked finger and matching a name on the electoral roll is valid is pretty good. In any case inking fingers is a lot better the presenting a fakable ID.

    Not that the problem is large, the AEC estimate was maybe 800 people voted twice.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Semi-informal voting

    I've been told that if you put your preferred candidate first and everyone else equal last, then they are obliged to accept the vote. This avoids the risk of your vote "trickling down" to someone you really don't want. However I was also told that it is illegal to let anyone know this (hence the A/C). The person who told me this was a one-time candidate at a local election who got into trouble after advising his supporters to vote this way.

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