Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The sole party of government

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  • Paul Campbell,

    I think the "internet voting will raise turnout" idea assumes that all the people who are not voting have ready access to the internet (and the confidence to use it for something as important as voting)

    On the other hand those "rank 40 names" STV city council votes might be a great thing to do on line for those who do commonly vote

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Alfie,

    The Online Voting Working Group released a report last month examining the feasibility of online voting and it’s generally positive. Paul Matthews, CEO of the Institute of IT Professionals writes that he was initially skeptical but is now convinced that they can produce a workable system.

    That NBR link makes a case for replacing postal voting, and I can understand how online voting can provide a system that's at least equivalent as long as some technical issues like authentication and security are sorted. The Internet Party manifesto also has a big section on how awesome online voting is, and that these issues can be surmounted, but those issues are all that it addresses!

    Do online voting advocates have a clear answer to the social issues with online voting, though? Maybe it's worth a compromise if there's a definite improvement for voter turnout (I still think that's a big gamble), but I think there's also lots to be lost in the integrity of elections every time we do away with the security and privacy of a polling booth.

    Firstly, it's impossible by design to prove to anyone else how you voted. There's no way to take any kind of receipt away from the ballot box. This means you can tell your inlaws or your employer or spouse whatever you like to keep them happy because there's no way for them to know otherwise. More importantly they can't coerce you to do come back with a receipt, whether it's actively or passively. But online voting means people could be passing behind you, looking over your shoulder. Voters might print out copies of their vote for who-knows-what reason. Laptops or similar could be passed around the union meetings so that everyone can cast their vote for the "correct" candidate whom we all support, etc etc etc.

    Secondly, the ballot box system is very straightforward for 99% of the populace to understand, and trust. You mark some paper, secretly put it in a box, then real people in a secure place count the marks on the paper, with scrutineers watching. Scrutineers ensure that ballot papers are securely locked away, and if there's demand there can be a recount. Online voting is the opposite -- 99% of people immediately can't understand it, and need to rely on someone else telling them that it's reliable and trustworthy. Most probably won't care most of the time, but the scope's there for a big problem if people are ever given reason to think so.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I strongly dislike any suggestion of any kind of electronic voting, be it machines in the booths or online.

    I think I could happily accept electronic voting booths as long as they met strict criteria. They’d have to produce a voter-verified paper trail, not let the voter take away any evidence of their vote. Also in the case of any inconsistency between electronic and paper counts, the voter-verified paper version of the vote would have to be authoritative.

    There doesn't seem to be much point for it in NZ, though. Our current paper and pen system seems to work really well, and it’s not like it takes longer than a few hours for the result to be counted.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I think the “internet voting will raise turnout” idea assumes that all the people who are not voting have ready access to the internet (and the confidence to use it for something as important as voting)

    I think it also assumes that the reason people don't vote is because they can't be bothered to visit a polling booth, or can't reach it for some other reason. Even if vocal non-voters say that's the case, I'm not totally convinced it's the real reason. Maybe I'm wrong.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Hey... Jason Ede has finally surfaced. Or not. Key confirmed this morning that Ede has 'resigned' from the National Party.

    ...He's given 11 long years to the party and loyal service to the party. There are some comments made in the book that I think we would all strongly disagree with. His primary role really started out as a media person for us and part of his role was talking to bloggers.

    "I think after 11 years he's decided, look, the time's come for him to leave."

    Mr Key said he didn't suggest Ede should leave his role with the National party.

    I'm sure Ede will already have a comfortable PR job lined up, possibly working with the same group of people he's already familiar with. After all, their main client can offer another three years of guaranteed work.

    A curse on our slack media who didn't track down Ede after the release of Hager's book.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Farmer Green,

    I believe that online voting could massively increase voter turnout. After all, it’s not really “turnout” if you can do it while you’re sitting at home in your underpants.

    If online voting is implemented, it would have to be backed up with a paper trail to minimise electoral fraud, if not eliminate it.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to izogi,

    I think I could happily accept electronic voting booths as long as they met strict criteria. They’d have to produce a voter-verified paper trail, not let the voter take away any evidence of their vote. Also in the case of any inconsistency between electronic and paper counts, the voter-verified paper version of the vote would have to be authoritative.

    They're not talking about electronic machines in voting booths. It's already been proved in the US that they're easily gamed. The security issues are dealt with in the PDF (downloadable via the NBR article). Basically ElectionsNZ would post a unique code to every registered voter, in the same way they post out EasyVote cards now.

    Sure, someone could steal the code from your letterbox, in the same way they can steal your EasyVote card now. The proposed system is no less secure than the current one.

    There doesn't seem to be much point for it in NZ, though. Our current paper and pen system seems to work really well, and it’s not like it takes longer than a few hours for the result to be counted

    Horses also work perfectly well... we don't need those stinkin' automobiles. And as for those new-fangled computer thingies...

    I don't personally know anybody who didn't vote this time, but I'd wager that most of them will have computers or mobile phones and know how to use Facebook. We're talking a quarter of registered voters here. Anything we can do to help them engage in the democratic progress has to be a good thing.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    up the pressure on the dirty politics thing – nail the Nats as the weasily slime they are far out from the next election so that it is in effect over by the time the next election has come around

    David Parker's police complaint on perverting the course of justice charges is only the start.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    If online voting is implemented, it would have to be backed up with a paper trail to minimise electoral fraud, if not eliminate it.

    IP address and time recorded... possible login and authentication via the iGovt or RealMe sites.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Online voting would require verified paper ballot backups which people could check a) Their vote was recorded as who they voted for b) no extra votes or changed votes are on the system (recounts), and that all gets rather complicated and dangerous very quickly. I'm against it.

    Here are the electorate turnouts (before the effect of specials). gold prize to Wairarapa, silver to Ōtaki, bronze to Dunedin South

    1 Auckland Central 0.6147062
    2 Bay of Plenty 0.7285598
    3 Botany 0.6314051
    4 Christchurch Central 0.6687067
    5 Christchurch East 0.6747357
    6 Clutha-Southland 0.7109519
    7 Coromandel 0.7230737
    8 Dunedin North 0.6999908
    9 Dunedin South 0.7530902
    10 East Coast 0.6941691
    11 East Coast Bays 0.6723085
    12 Epsom 0.6486282
    13 Hamilton East 0.6766798
    14 Hamilton West 0.6726180
    15 Hauraki-Waikato 0.5206937
    16 Helensville 0.7020235
    17 Hunua 0.7189178
    18 Hutt South 0.7270650
    19 Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 0.5588218
    20 Ilam 0.6917468
    21 Invercargill 0.7055316
    22 Kaikōura 0.7301939
    23 Mana 0.7187318
    24 Māngere 0.5646660
    25 Manukau East 0.5676559
    26 Manurewa 0.5683573
    27 Maungakiekie 0.6389404
    28 Mt Albert 0.6671641
    29 Mt Roskill 0.6372756
    30 Napier 0.7308530
    31 Nelson 0.7274589
    32 New Lynn 0.6528478
    33 New Plymouth 0.7101089
    34 North Shore 0.6876983
    35 Northcote 0.6667752
    36 Northland 0.7167634
    37 Ōtaki 0.7551267
    38 Pakuranga 0.6750634
    39 Palmerston North 0.7157678
    40 Papakura 0.6633582
    41 Port Hills 0.7257290
    42 Rangitata 0.7276606
    43 Rangitīkei 0.7344235
    44 Rimutaka 0.7200514
    45 Rodney 0.7407089
    46 Rongotai 0.7122716
    47 Rotorua 0.7096158
    48 Selwyn 0.7520363
    49 Tāmaki 0.7029035
    50 Tāmaki Makaurau 0.4922881
    51 Taranaki-King Country 0.7240330
    52 Taupō 0.7110777
    53 Tauranga 0.7191759
    54 Te Atatū 0.6558156
    55 Te Tai Hauāuru 0.5452796
    56 Te Tai Tokerau 0.5549410
    57 Te Tai Tonga 0.5225408
    58 Tukituki 0.7217799
    59 Waikato 0.7101029
    60 Waimakariri 0.7189314
    61 Wairarapa 0.7759522
    62 Waitaki 0.7431510
    63 Wellington Central 0.6778748
    64 West Coast-Tasman 0.7341532
    65 Whanganui 0.7092760
    66 Whangarei 0.7217878
    67 Wigram 0.6660151

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to izogi,

    I think it also assumes that the reason people don’t vote is because they can’t be bothered to visit a polling booth

    It's an assumption that begs the question why turnout at the last round of local body elections was twitching around 40% despite it hardly being onerous to have two weeks to take your papers out of the letterbox, fill 'em in and mail them back. IMO, making a fetish out of e-voting misses the point that if you're disconnected from politics and the political process the medium doesn't signify.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    One more,
    23 Kelston 0.6173830

    It wasn't showing on the page I was data matching against last night but is there this morning. My guess is that someone missed it on the list of electorates to display as it is new. But all good now.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to David Hood,

    Wow.

    What was the source for that, David?

    Compared against 2011 for Wellington Central (85%) that's a massive drop!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Alfie,

    Sure, someone could steal the code from your letterbox, in the same way they can steal your EasyVote card now. The proposed system is no less secure than the current one.

    But if you nick someone's EasyVote, and they actually go down to vote, then you end up with two votes for that name, and the wheels of ... I was going to say justice, but shall we say "electoral law" start to roll.

    I think that does make the current system slightly more secure than the proposed one.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Dismal, I got the general roll numbers for each electorate from

    http://www.elections.org.nz/research-statistics/enrolment-statistics-electorate?name=

    and I had a script running through getting the vote count for each electorate linked off here

    http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/electionresults_2014/electorateindex.html

    and linked them together (I've also got the party vote for each electorate at the same time, but haven't had time to do anything with that yet).

    All of that said, I did muck up the initial links for a couple in the U-W section (but not Wellington Central), and a full corrected list is

    1 Auckland Central 0.6147062
    2 Bay of Plenty 0.7285598
    3 Botany 0.6314051
    4 Christchurch Central 0.6687067
    5 Christchurch East 0.6747357
    6 Clutha-Southland 0.7109519
    7 Coromandel 0.7230737
    8 Dunedin North 0.6999908
    9 Dunedin South 0.7530902
    10 East Coast 0.6941691
    11 East Coast Bays 0.6723085
    12 Epsom 0.6486282
    13 Hamilton East 0.6766798
    14 Hamilton West 0.6726180
    15 Hauraki-Waikato 0.5206937
    16 Helensville 0.7020235
    17 Hunua 0.7189178
    18 Hutt South 0.7270650
    19 Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 0.5588218
    20 Ilam 0.6917468
    21 Invercargill 0.7055316
    22 Kaikōura 0.7301939
    23 Kelston 0.6173830
    24 Mana 0.7187318
    25 Māngere 0.5646660
    26 Manukau East 0.5676559
    27 Manurewa 0.5683573
    28 Maungakiekie 0.6389404
    29 Mt Albert 0.6671641
    30 Mt Roskill 0.6372756
    31 Napier 0.7308530
    32 Nelson 0.7274589
    33 New Lynn 0.6528478
    34 New Plymouth 0.7101089
    35 North Shore 0.6876983
    36 Northcote 0.6667752
    37 Northland 0.7167634
    38 Ōhāriu 0.7362756
    39 Ōtaki 0.7551267
    40 Pakuranga 0.6750634
    41 Palmerston North 0.7157678
    42 Papakura 0.6633582
    43 Port Hills 0.7257290
    44 Rangitata 0.7276606
    45 Rangitīkei 0.7344235
    46 Rimutaka 0.7200514
    47 Rodney 0.7407089
    48 Rongotai 0.7122716
    49 Rotorua 0.7096158
    50 Selwyn 0.7520363
    51 Tāmaki 0.7029035
    52 Tāmaki Makaurau 0.4922881
    53 Taranaki-King Country 0.7240330
    54 Taupō 0.7110777
    55 Tauranga 0.7191759
    56 Te Atatū 0.6558156
    57 Te Tai Hauāuru 0.5452796
    58 Te Tai Tokerau 0.5549410
    59 Te Tai Tonga 0.5225408
    60 Tukituki 0.7217799
    61 Upper Harbour 0.6328193
    62 Waiariki 0.5243417
    63 Waikato 0.7048646
    64 Waimakariri 0.7375239
    65 Wairarapa 0.7345064
    66 Waitaki 0.7431510
    67 Wellington Central 0.6778748
    68 West Coast-Tasman 0.7341532
    69 Whanganui 0.7092760
    70 Whangarei 0.7217878
    71 Wigram 0.6660151

    I will try and get the code I used (in R) up and shared, but that will probably not happen for a few days.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Stephen R,

    But if you nick someone's EasyVote, and they actually go down to vote, then you end up with two votes for that name, and the wheels of ... I was going to say justice, but shall we say "electoral law" start to roll.

    I think that does make the current system slightly more secure than the proposed one.

    Point taken. But using RealMe would get around that issue, wouldn't it?

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Michael Meyers,

    Election web site tells me here that there were 2405652 votes including specials yet to be counted. Your population estime for 2014 was 3378138. That’s 71.2%.

    Cool, thanks Mike. I was thinking that was a big drop in turnout, and not only forgot I wasn’t yet comparing like with like, but also, when I’d earlier been thinking about it, assumed the specials would be fewer than that.

    So maybe advance voting did make a difference to turnout? I’d hoped it would.

    My file's at home, but I'll have another go at it later.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to David Hood,

    Cheers.

    Something doesn’t quite gel here with 77% number in the summary page versus those you’ve got. Could the difference be specials?

    Eta: I see that there are specials in there but is that the final final specials?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    David, that's really helpful for what I wanted to do next: compare turnout to weather on the day!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Alfie,

    They’re not talking about electronic machines in voting booths.

    Yep. I was responding to something Chris mentioned.

    Horses also work perfectly well… we don’t need those stinkin’ automobiles. And as for those new-fangled computer thingies…

    For general elections at least, where we’re still using secure voting environments and ballot boxes, do you know if there’s been any realistic attempt to address the social issues I raised, which are mostly a consequence of online voting not guaranteeing the privacy of a vote, and making it possible to produce evidence for someone else of how you’ve voted? Sure, electoral officials can presently trace ballot papers back to a person if they try hard, but those ballot papers are kept in a strictly controlled and secured system, and then destroyed.

    That’s really my number one concern with shifting to online voting, or to postal voting for that matter, even though we’ve already gone down that road to an extent. It’s a significant part of the integrity of the electoral system that’s being sacrificed, yet so far everything I’ve seen in promotion of the online voting has ignored that it’s even an issue.

    Maybe it’s still worth a compromise if there’s a likely benefit: we already compromise to small degrees to let people vote from overseas, or when they really can’t reach a polling booth. But as Craig also said, I think there’s plenty of reason to suspect that making online voting a major thing still wouldn’t make a jot of difference to turnout long-term if the fundamental problem is people’s engagement with politics… at least beyond the first one or two occasions when it’s new and trendy. There’s a risk we’d be throwing away that electoral integrity for no benefit.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    To the best of my knowledge, specials are yet to be included, so all this is provisional until the final results, and once I grab the previous elections results this evening with a slight modification of the script, we will need to be aware of not quite comparing like with like.

    Average turnout in electorates won in 2014 by a National MP 0.703
    Average turnout in electorates won in 2014 by a Labour MP 0.644

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Young, in reply to Alfie,

    But using RealMe would get around that issue, wouldn't it?

    Is RealMe sophisticated enough to identify the actual person logged on and using the computer?

    eg. What would prevent the dominant male in a household taking his wife and kids voting IDs and doing all the voting himself?

    Glenfield • Since Jun 2013 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to David Hood,

    Average turnout in electorates won in 2014 by a National MP 0.703
    Average turnout in electorates won in 2014 by a Labour MP 0.644

    That in itself tells a story. If higher turnout works against the right, then this really reinforces (not that it needs to) the disconnect between Labour and the electorate.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to izogi,

    Sure, electoral officials can presently trace ballot papers back to a person if they try hard, but those ballot papers are kept in a strictly controlled and secured system, and then destroyed.

    I'm sure that a secure protocol could be implemented to guarantee anonymity. Mind you, the NSA/GCSB already have access to everything anyway, so big brother could record your voting preferences if he/she/it was so inclined.

    Internet voting has been trialled in a few countries already.

    Internet voting was first used for binding political elections in 2000 in the U.S. in a pilot across several states targeting overseas voters. Since then, 13 more countries have used Internet voting. Two use Internet voting nationwide (Estonia and the United Arab Emirates); five use Internet voting in some parts of the country or for certain members of the electorate (Australia, Canada, France, Mexico and Switzerland); two have ongoing pilots (India and Norway); three have piloted Internet voting and decided not to continue its use (Finland, the UK and the U.S.); and two adopted Internet voting, but decided to discontinue it (Netherlands and Spain).

    The costs of administering elections would drop considerably -- that would also apply to referrenda, even if the government of the day chooses to ignore the wishes of the majority of its citizens.

    I agree that there are certainly secrecy/privacy issues which need to be addressed. But anything which makes voting easier has to be worth considering.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Gary Young,

    Is RealMe sophisticated enough to identify the actual person logged on and using the computer?

    Absolutely not. RealMe even, by default, leaves your password typed in to that field so you just have to push "log in".

    Now, go through the process of applying for RealMe, and assume you don't have a driver's licence or a passport.Then come back and tell me how much easier than enrolling to vote that was.

    Abuse is, to me, the number one problem with on-line voting, and I haven't seen any advocates address it. The privacy of the polling booth is essential to a secret ballot, and electoral staff enforce it. The privacy of your own home is where people are the most vulnerable.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

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