NZ government scraps e-voting trial

Numerous security and privacy issues couldn't be addressed in time for poll

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New Zealand's online voting trial, slated for local government elections this year, has collapsed with the national government scrapping the plan.

Associate minister for local government Louise Upton yesterday sent a statement to Radio NZ saying they couldn't “meet legislative requirements” in time for the elections.

Last November, the NZ government published a requirements document that stated the local governments involved in the trial had to get independent assurance that their proposed solutions meet both national and local government technical requirements, including the security and accuracy of the system.

However, according to local outlet Stuff, some councils are blaming the national government for the delays.

Horizons Regional Council chairman Bruce Gordon said the government “left it too late” to get the trials organised. Massey University commentator Christine Cheyne agreed, blaming the “tardiness” of the central government.

Local government elections in New Zealand are conducted by postal vote, and suffer from low participation.

Justin Lester, deputy mayor of Wellington council, told Radio NZ (audio here) that after three years preparing for the trial, the city is disappointed that the trial's been abandoned.

He argued that while online voting is subject to security and traceability risks, the same risks exist for postal votes. Moreover, he said, NZ's youth was disengaged from the process since many of them have never sent a letter.

That, combined with cutbacks in postal services, meant participation in local government elections is down around the 40 per cent mark.

The trials were criticised last year by security specialists on the basis that systems could be hackable or subject to denial-of-service attacks, and because of the risk that voter identity could be associated with their votes. ®


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