Changes to the iVote system will make it easier for those with disability to vote in the NSW state election. iVote allows eligible voters including people who are blind, have low vision or a disability to vote using the internet or telephone as an alternative to voting at a polling booth.
The remote electronic voting system was first introduced in the 2011 NSW state election primarily to allow vision-impaired electors to vote in secret and gain new levels of independence.
However a survey by the Allen Consulting Group following the 2011 election found that people with disability and those outside NSW were dissatisfied with the registration process with a 24-hour delay between registering to use the iVote system and distribution of the credentials required for an elector to actually vote. This problem has now been overcome with electors able to register in seconds and place the ballot into the system ready to vote. The iVote system will also now take phone votes through call centre operators, allowing those with disability to use their phone to vote. The NSW Electoral Commission will be using the call-centre based approach in all by-elections between now and the next State election.
The system has also been broadened to include people with reading difficulties, those who live more than 20 kilometres from their nearest polling booth or who will be interstate or overseas on election day, March 28.
As use of postal services decline in the face of digital alternatives it is expected that postal voting will become increasingly problematic as an effective channel for remote voters.
According to the post 2011 election survey, the blind, the vision impaired and those with other disabilities had lower than estimated take-up rates with the iVote system. It found the vast majority of iVote users were mainly driven by people who were outside the state on election day or were living in remote or rural areas. The actual number of users, 46,864 was around four times the original estimates and the majority of them voted online. Blind, vision-impaired and those with disability tended to vote over the phone as did older voters.
For more information go to: www.votensw.info or phone: 1300 248 683