Electronically assisted voting can be made available at State elections for certain categories of electors.
Electronically assisted voting (EAV) has been available at Victorian State elections since 2006 for those with a vision impairment, motor impairment or those with insufficient literacy skills.
The legislation that governs electronic voting in Victoria is the Electoral Act 2002 (the Act), section 100 and Part 6A and the Electoral Regulations 2012 Part 5.
Electronic voting is not available for the Northcote by-election being held on 18 November, 2017.
What is electronic voting?
Electronic voting is a broad term that means an electronic device is used to fulfil some or all of the voting process. There are many kinds of electronic voting which range from systems where the vote is both collected and counted electronically, to systems where the computer simply marks a paper ballot on the voter's behalf. Some electronic voting systems can be completely online, others may be provided at a nominated location or require specific hardware or software.
In Victoria, the Act states that electronic voting can only be made available at voting centres. This environment provides physical controls the Commission needs to enforce the secrecy and privacy required by the Act. In addition, the Act specifically requires the commission to control voting integrity at all times (Section 110F part (b)) and this has resulted in the Commission providing a new system that is end-to-end verifiable.
About the VEC’s electronic voting system
The VEC uses a universally verifiable electronic voting system that provides several voting services, ranging from device configuration to system staging, vote collection, decryption and vote printing.
The main software components of the VEC’s electronic voting system are:
- suVote: which provides ballot generation, centralised vote collection, verification systems and client proxies
- Ximix: which provides vote decryption and proofs of mixing
- VPS (vote print station): which is the facility for configuration of voting options and printing candidate lists at voting centres
- EVM (electronic voting machine): which is the audio and visual voting interfaces for electors
- VVA: which is the VEC’s device preparation, monitoring, configuration pre-processing and collected vote post-processing component of the system
The system source codes are all open source GPL3 and available at bit bucket
For details about each component and references to the research and scientific papers that have contributed to the system, see EAV - detailed information.
Who can vote electronically in Victoria?
Current Victorian legislation states that electronic voting can be accessed by an elector who otherwise cannot vote without assistance because of:
- A vision impairment
- A motor impairment or
- Insufficient literacy skills
Literacy skills also refer to electors who are from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds and have difficulty reading.
Electronic voting can be accessed by any elector at an interstate or overseas voting location.
The Local Government Act 1989 does not currently provide for electronic voting at local council elections.
Please note: Casting your vote electronically will take longer than a paper vote. Please allow at least 10-20 minutes per vote when using this technology.
Is electronic voting secure?
The VEC's electronically assisted voting system is an end-to-end universally verifiable system. It includes a special auditing system which is visible to anyone so that VEC staff, electors and the general public can examine meaningful extracts from the system at any time to confirm its integrity. The verification system provides confirmation that a vote has been collected by VEC exactly as the voter intended without exposing who the voter is or how they voted. The system has been designed by an international team of researchers and based on a well known voting protocol called Prêt à Voter that was created in 2006. The design, its source codes and supporting research are in the public domain; the system is open source.