Voting change made after Weekly article

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Online voting appears to be a definite for the 2016 local body elections with the local government minister announcing a trial of the technology.

The announcement came the day after a Nelson Weekly article highlighted the case of a Nelson man who cannot vote in this year’s election as he is overseas and the electronic option isn’t available in council elections. This despite its widespread use in other elections, including the general election.

The only way for the man to cast his vote was to allow someone else to do it for him, which is illegal.

Local Government Minister Chris Tremain announced that the trial of online voting will take place in the 2016 local authority elections.

“Online transactions are the way of the future and the Government is committed to rolling out digital services for New Zealanders,” says Chris. “I have asked the Department of Internal Affairs to put together a working party from across government and local authorities and with information technology experts.  They will consider the options, costs and security issues involved in online voting.”

The Electoral Voting Act allows the use of online voting but the regulations haven’t been written for local body elections. But with the minister now pushing that through, it seems likely online voting will be an option in 2016.

“Voter turnout in local body elections is traditionally low and we need to look at other ways to encourage people to become involved in the democratic process. Online voting will be more convenient and appeal to young voters.  It will also make it easier for people with disabilities to vote,” says Chris.

Warwick Lampp, the chief returning officer for Electionz which runs the election on behalf of Nelson City Council, says he supports the move for the online option to be made available as there were problems every council election with people unable to vote and this would solve many of them.