Online rejection ‘a blow to democracy’
Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett says he is ‘‘gutted’’ the Government has decided not to go ahead with an online voting trial for this year’s local body elections.
Associate Minister of Local Government Louise Upston said more work needed to happen to ‘‘ensure a trial meets public and government expectations’’.
‘‘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 said.
‘‘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 said
Leggett described the decision as a blow to local democracy.
‘‘Voter turnout is declining and we believe offering a modern, accessible, efficient, digital option to voters is an important and obvious step in turning that around,’’ Leggett said. ‘‘That’s why our council has led the charge on e-voting.’’
He said Porirua was a young city with a high proportion of voters who related to online communities.
‘‘The ease, access and convenience of voting online not only benefits modern lifestyles, but can also improve participation for overseas voters.
‘‘We need to cater to them and future generations to allow them to engage with democracy on their terms.’’
He said the internet was an integral part of young people’s lives.
‘‘If we want them to vote we need to make the process quicker and easier.
‘‘Online voting provides opportunities to make voting sim- pler and more accurate by notifying voters if they have incorrectly completed a voting document. It also helps electors who currently have issues voting under the postal system.’’
He called the decision short- sighted and said it had been made by people clearly struggling to adapt to the digital era.
‘‘In a handful of years, the fact a New Zealand Government rejected e-voting in 2016 will have people scratching their heads. This baffling decision gives new meaning to the term ‘no-brainer’.’’
Leggett said the work and cost put in by Porirua and other councils who put themselves up to take part in the trial had been a wasted effort.