Vote early, vote often? Electoral commissioner wants voter ID

High numbers of apparent multiple voting, none of which are prosecuted, has electoral commissioner Tom Rogers concerned about the integrity of Australia’s elections. Are ID requirements the answer?

Integrity of the nation’s voting system has Australian Electoral Commission boss Tom Rogers “disturbed and uncomfortable”, saying remedies need to be considered including proof of identity checks at polling booths.

An AEC crackdown on multiple marks identified 7743 cases of “apparent multiple voting”, including cases where the elector admitted to the crime, but due to difficulty obtaining corroborative evidence the Australian Federal Police has not referred a single case for prosecution.

The AFP and academic reviews have noted that, in the past, multiple voting has not impacted the outcome of an election in Australia. Rogers warned in Senate Estimates last night that such complacency was no guarantee to the integrity of future elections:

“This receives a lot of coverage, and people are interested in it. The previous focus on numbers is largely irrelevant. It is actually about integrity, and perception of integrity, that’s critical.

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  • rocky

    “The federal Griffith byelection last year was the first to use electronic lists instead of paper lists.”

    This is a bit of a sidetrack to this article, but this sentence alarms the heck out of me. It shouldn’t be too hard to find out where future lists are hosted. The Commonwealth Tenders website will provide some pointers to that. Then all we need to do is talk to some vendors to the AEC, and do a little social engineer/hacking work on some of the less sophisticated staff members. Then throw ten or twenty thousand dollars in Bitcoin at some enthusiastic foreign hackers to manipulate the list while it’s being compiled.

    What’s that you say? There’s excellent security? Tell that to MasterCard and Bank of America, who both had “excellent security” and were hacked anyway. And there are scores more attempts every day. The sophisticated ones use social engineering rather than brute force, and often their efforts are never discovered, because it’s usually only brute force attacks that are noticed.

    And no amount of encryption or hardening will prevent social engineering.

    If you have a vendor that guarantees security, find another vendor because you’re dealing with arrogant salespeople, not real IT security professionals.

    There is too much at stake – billions in potential profits – to use electronic vote tallying. Hiring hackers is expensive, but Bitcoin makes it easy to do so anonymously. And it’s (usually) cheaper and less difficult to detect than bribing/donating to political parties.

  • draco

    Watched this be in effect all of the QLD election and it looked like a huge PITA for everyone involved. Even with the requirements set really low (bring in a letter from QEC, a card issued by a financial, educational or government institution which covered just about anything you could think of with your name on it) people were having to go back and get their ID. The voter would queue up, get to the end of the line, get told to go get their ID and off they’d go to their car, or even worse; all the way back home.

    Did the election go off without a hitch? Nah, look at Ferny Grove. Turns out for all the effort spent educating voters on these new requirements and enforcing them they forgot to check if the PUP candidate for that seat was eligible to be a candidate at all.

  • gavin_moodie

    Thanx for this.

    What, precisely, are ‘electronically certified lists’ or ‘electronic lists’? Does it mean that the electoral officer looks up electors’ name on a screen, do officers mark the names of electors who have voted on a screen, are the screen records a download of a database stored elsewhere, do they consult and update a central database online, and do they do so in real time or after a delay?

    • Harley

      Figuring that out is all part of the trial process at the moment. There’s both a cost and a security element to it, but if they could mitigate both then, yes, real time synchronisation is what they’re aiming for. They’ve only had one test so far, in Griffith, and we’ll see more detail next week during JSCEM.

  • A Blot

    It it about time we revisit the introduce of an Australian Card for means of identification only. With current recognition techniques now available it would pickup fraudulent cards. The other reason is many elderly and young people get to a point where their means of identification non existent.