Online voting a possibility
Matamata-Piako District Council is in the running to be among the first in the country to offer online voting, should the Government agree to a trial during the 2016 local authority elections.
Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said eight councils volunteered to take part in the trial, including Matamata-Piako District Council.
Matamata-Piako mayor Jan Barnes said the district was often leading the way. ‘‘Online voting is certainly the way of the future.’’
Yule said the trial was an important project and a key initiative which will ultimately change the way many people vote in New Zealand. ‘‘People are undertaking more and more of their business online and, in my view, it is only a matter of time before the option of voting online is routine. A trial of this kind is beneficial both to local authorities and to New Zealand as a whole.’’
Matamata-Piako voters will still be able to cast votes by post if they wish but will also have the option of voting online.
Taken together, the population of the trial councils makes up around 10 per cent of New Zealand’s total population and Yule said the councils which have volunteered to take part have both sufficient diversity and complexity to test the effectiveness of online voting systems.
‘‘The councils will only be able to offer online voting if they meet the regulatory requirements set by Cabinet and if Cabinet agrees to a trial going ahead,’’ Yule said.
The trials will cover a range of election types depending on the council area, including single transferable vote (STV) and first past the post (FPP) elections.
The trial councils are also diverse in terms of different socio-economic status, population density and broadband access.
Each council’s preparation for the trial, if accepted by the Government, will be subject to an audit by the Government’s Chief Information Officer.
The other councils taking part in the trial are Masterton District Council, Palmerston North City Council, Porirua City Council, Rotorua Lakes Council, Selwyn District Council, Wellington City Council and Wanganui District Council.