/You dont show ID to vote. So why dont people vote heaps of times?

You dont show ID to vote. So why dont people vote heaps of times?

Updated

May 10, 2019 07:01:32

A number of readers have written in to the ABC’s You Ask, We Answer project questioning how secure their vote will be on election day.

From who will inspect their ballot papers, to why we use pencils not pens — here’s what you need to know.

Why don’t you have to show ID to vote in this federal election?

Tony from Queensland questioned why, when he pre-polled at his local community centre on the Sunshine Coast, he wasn’t asked to present his driver’s licence.

“That leaves the door open to non-compliance and fraudulent activity,” he said.

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, voters aren’t required to show identification at polling places. Instead, they must verify their identity when they enrol to vote and each time they update their details.

But voter ID is “occasionally discussed in parliamentary committees”, according to the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) Phil Diak.

Following the 2016 federal election, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters recommended amending the Electoral Act to require voter ID, arguing it would help prevent people from casting multiple ballots or voting in another person’s name.

But support for voter ID has been mixed in Canberra, with some arguing it could disenfranchise minority groups and the disadvantaged.

So what if someone casts multiple votes at different polling places?

Jude Meacham from South Australia and Alice Glover from Victoria both asked how multiple voting was detected and what would happen to the votes.

Mr Diak said there was no evidence of organised multiple voting in Australia, but the AEC checks and compares voter lists at the end of every election.

“We compare all of the voter lists at the conclusion of the election and we identify any non-voters or any other apparent dual marks where a person may have voted twice,” he said.

If someone is suspected of voting more than once, they’ll be contacted by the AEC and asked to explain.

If there’s evidence they did so intentionally, the matter will be referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and they could face a hefty fine or imprisonment.

In 2013, around 7,700 cases of suspected multiple voting were referred to the AFP, but no-one was prosecuted.

“We do follow all of this up and if there was ever a risk to the result in a seat and it was taken to the Court of Disputed Returns, any dual votes or multiple votes would be tendered as part of that hearing,” Mr Diak said.

Why do we vote in pencil? Wouldn’t pens be more secure?

This question was asked by Clare Williams in Western Australia, who worried voting in pencil would leave her ballots “wide open to tampering”.

The Electoral Act stipulates that all voters must be supplied with a pencil if they’re voting in a polling booth, but there’s nothing stopping you from bringing in your own pen and using it to vote instead.

The AEC uses pencils because they’re cheap, they don’t run out (polling officials can sharpen them across the day), and they’re easily stored between elections.

But they don’t supply erasers, so if you make a mistake you’re advised to ask for a new ballot paper.

Once counting begins, special scrutineers are trained to inspect the votes to make sure they’re authentic and have not been inappropriately altered.

Will we ever switch to electronic voting?

It appears many of you would like to see Australia switch to electronic voting.

Therese Ryan from Queensland said paper voting wasted a “phenomenal” amount of paper, while Martin Gara from Victoria said some minority groups might benefit from a computer-assisted process.

Geoff Stuart from Western Australia said he voted electronically at the last WA state election and found the process “quite simple”. “You get a pin number and then vote. We could have the result at 6:00pm,” he said.

But the AEC said there weren’t any plans to move the federal election to an electronic voting system just yet.

“Any changes for electronic voting would have to be passed by the Parliament,” Mr Diak said.

In 2017, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters found “a number of serious problems” with electronic voting. It said the major barriers included the cost, security and verification of results.

“As it stands, the technology is not sufficiently mature for an election to be conducted through a full-scale electronic voting process,” it said.

“However, the committee remains interested in technological developments which may eventually result in a convenient and secure method of allowing votes to be cast electronically and will continue to consider new technological developments.”

Can you bring your own notes into the polling booth?

Sanket Dandekar from Victoria and Jenny Brands from Queensland asked whether they could bring their own notes into the polling booths to help them vote.

“I have researched all the candidates and made a list on a sheet of paper as per my preference,” Mr Dandekar said.

Ms Brands said she wanted to do the same to avoid making a mistake.

According to Mr Diak, you’re welcome to bring any outside material into the polling booths with you, such as how-to-vote-cards or your own notes.

However, anything you take into the booth must also be taken out again.

Full coverage of Australia Votes

Topics:

government-and-politics,

elections,

federal-elections,

australia

First posted

May 10, 2019 05:26:08