Queenslanders to trial electronic voting – used overseas – at Council elections in March 2016. Photo: Inacio Teixeira
Queenslanders will trial electronic voting at next year’s council elections, deputy premier Jackie Trad confirmed on Monday.
The concept has been considered for almost a decade and has previously been trialled with Queensland’s visually-impaired community in the past.
“We will be trialling – in a small way – electronic voting at the upcoming council elections in March 2016,” Ms Trad said.
“It is something that has been on the books – in terms of a trial – for some time,” she said.
“And we are hoping that it might be a good mechanism for people – particularly for people who are impaired – to have their vote cast before election day.”
Vision Australia – Queensland’s chief lobby group for visually-impaired Queenslanders – in 2014 lobbied the previous government to allow the visually-impaired to vote electronically at the 2015 state election.
However only last year federal bureaucrats voted down a shift towards electronic voting ruling a solution was too costly and security could not be guaranteed.
However five years ago Queensland’s then Electoral Commissioner David Kerslake said more and more Queenslanders voted before election day, meaning electronic voting was becoming preferable to the general community.
A survey of 3700 people completed as part of the Queensland Electoral Commission’s review of the March 2009 state election found that 31 per cent of voters would already prefer to vote on the internet.
“Fifty-seven per cent of respondents would prefer to keep voting at a polling booth, whilst 31 per cent would prefer to vote via the internet in the future,” the survey found.
“10 per cent of all respondents chose postal voting as their preference for future elections.”
Mr Kerslake said the fact that 70 per cent more people voted before election day this year meant that the sanctity of voting on election day was already shifting.
In the March 2009 election, 155,846 people, or 6.23 per cent of Queensland’s 2.5 million voters, lodged their votes before election day.
“The proportion of voting on the Saturday of an election is steadily decreasing, with a 70 per cent increase in the number of votes cast at early voting centres between 2006 and 2009,” Mr Kerslake said.
Fairfax Media understands the issue will be raised in state parliament this week, where question time begins on Tuesday morning.