The online voting trial for this year’s local body elections are not going ahead, the Government has announced.
Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston says there is more work to be done to ensure a trial of online voting meets public and government expectations.
“Public confidence in local elections is fundamentally important. Given real concerns about security and vote integrity, it is too early for a trial,” says Upston.
“Due to timing restrictions, preparations for the proposed trial have not yet met the legislative requirements and cannot guarantee public confidence in the election results,” she explains.
Upston says security testing has been planned but has not yet occurred.
“Without seeing the results of testing we cannot be confident the systems are secure enough, and the trial could not be authorised,” she says.
“We acknowledge the work done by councils and service providers on their proposals and we understand their disappointment that the trials cannot go ahead this year as originally hoped.”
Upston says significant timeframe pressures in preparing for a trial for this year’s local elections combined exacerbated the risks inherent in a trial.
“Voting is a fundamental right of New Zealand citizens and public trust in electoral systems and results is paramount,” she says. “Maintaining public confidence and understanding of local electoral processes is more important than trialling online voting this year.”
Upston says online voting could be trialled at future elections but there is still much to learn about online voting, and issues with online voting overseas have stressed the importance of getting it right and maintaining public confidence.
“The Government is open to looking at proposals for future trials of online voting in local elections but any plans for trials should be developed as part of a programme of gradual steps towards online voting in local elections,” she explains.
Eight councils had expressed interest in trialling online voting at the 2016 local elections: Selwyn, Wellington, Porirua, Masterton, Rotorua, Matamata-Piako, Palmerston North and Whanganui.