Auckland Council is working with eight other councils towards a trial of online voting for next year’s local body elections.
It is hoped that online voting could improve voter turnout and assist, in particular, disabled and overseas voters.
At its meeting last week, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board was approached to provide feedback on the proposed trial and provided “tentative” approval, with concerns regarding security and ease of use for voters.
The report presented to the local board states that the security of the online voting solution is paramount and must be at a similar or higher level of security than postal voting.
Council’s governing body agreed in principle in May to the trial taking place, subject to the costs being acceptable, legislation being in place and identified risks being manageable.
Currently Council is working on selecting a preferred provider for the online service.
Council is taking a cautious approach – initially, in Auckland, only a small proportion – expected to be 10 percent of voters – will be offered the online option whereas the other eight councils involved all intend to offer online voting to all their voters.
At present, Council is wrestling with the task of identifying a representative sample to offer the online voting option to and the local board agreed that Hibiscus & Bays voters can be included in that sample.
Voter turnout has been dropping in both national and local elections in New Zealand. In the Auckland 2016 local elections, the voter turnout was 38.5 percent. This means that almost two out of three eligible electors did not vote.
The report to the local board says that Council’s research strongly indicates that if online voting available, electors would be more inclined to vote.
The final recommendation on which groups to include in the proposed Auckland trial will be presented to the Council’s governing body at its December 13 meeting.