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Things to fix in ACT elections

PantsMan 23 October 2012 44

Here are a few of my gripes about ACT elections.

Firstly, the whole ‘caretaker period’ concept is a joke. In Westminster democracies, the idea is that, when the Legislature is dissolved before an election, it can no longer hold the Executive to account in Parliament and the government must enter caretaker mode. However, in the ACT they get about two weeks of “government” after the Assembly is dissolved to do whatever they want. The caretaker conventions should be amended to put the government into caretaker at the end of the last sitting day of the Assembly.

The stupid Hare-Clark system that was entrenched as a virtual constitutional amendment in 1995. Now we can only get rid of it with another referendum.

Four year terms and the almost inability to have elections before that time. The Electoral Act only allows elections before four year in four circumstances: (1) when the Governor-General dissolves the Assembly; (2) when the Chief Minister is booted out and not one else is appointed for 30 days; (3) when no one stands for election, and; (4) when a new election is required by the court of disputed returns. We’ll probably have the worst four years of government ever seen, however, there will be virtually nothing anyone can do about it.

Stupid rules like the 100 metre ban on handing out electoral material. Aside from the typical ACT “ban” response to anything that might ever happen that might be bad, it basically leaves electors with even less information about who on earth they should vote for.

The election costing laws. In the Commonwealth, the Treasurer must say that the government has announced all agreed policies before the pre-election update is done, however in the ACT, Katy and Co. spent the election campaign saying “This is money we committed before the election. We are now just allocating and announcing it.” I presume Zed was not told how much he could have “allocated and announced”.

An electronic voting system from 1985, and an Electoral Commissioner who does not appear to be too on top of the actual rules and laws about voting or party registrations.


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44 Responses to Things to fix in ACT elections
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maxblues 1:04 pm 07 Nov 12

HenryBG said :

housebound said :

Agree 100%. At least with a paper vote, you know the parties’ scrutineers are looking over the shoulders of AEC staff, reducing the potential for fraud.

I would like to see a statistical comparison of the electronic votes with the paper votes cast at the same time (eg booth by booth or just prepoll and on-the-day).

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1680451,00.html

“After the initial excitement, it didn’t take long for voters to lose trust in the new system, as they increasingly deemed DRE too complex, unreliable and insecure; the only thing worse than a confusing paper trail, it turned out, was no paper trail at all. (It didn’t help that the main touch-screen machine supplier, Diebold, was widely accused in 2004 of ties to the Republican Party.) Fifteen Florida counties adopted touch-screen as well, and they learned the pitfalls of it the hard way, dealing with controversies like a 2006 congressional race in the Sarasota district, where an astonishing 15% of the ballots cast registered no choice at all — in a race that was decided by a razor-thin margin of 386 votes.”

And that’s a very conservative commentary from Time – other websites will be far less complimentary about the dodgy firm that produced these fraudulent machines.

Voting is like wiping your arse, using paper is best, electronically gets messy.

bainbridge 12:09 pm 07 Nov 12

p996911turbo said :

I do agree that the electronic voting system was a bit crap. A number pad as directional arrows is just pathetic.

I thought I’d dig this thread up in light of the current electronic voting controversy in the US at the moment. There is a reason you keep your voting machines really simple; you can test every component and be sure that it works! When you start putting touch screens on the damn things you’re just asking for trouble.

HenryBG 6:49 pm 25 Oct 12

housebound said :

Agree 100%. At least with a paper vote, you know the parties’ scrutineers are looking over the shoulders of AEC staff, reducing the potential for fraud.

I would like to see a statistical comparison of the electronic votes with the paper votes cast at the same time (eg booth by booth or just prepoll and on-the-day).

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1680451,00.html

“After the initial excitement, it didn’t take long for voters to lose trust in the new system, as they increasingly deemed DRE too complex, unreliable and insecure; the only thing worse than a confusing paper trail, it turned out, was no paper trail at all. (It didn’t help that the main touch-screen machine supplier, Diebold, was widely accused in 2004 of ties to the Republican Party.) Fifteen Florida counties adopted touch-screen as well, and they learned the pitfalls of it the hard way, dealing with controversies like a 2006 congressional race in the Sarasota district, where an astonishing 15% of the ballots cast registered no choice at all — in a race that was decided by a razor-thin margin of 386 votes.”

And that’s a very conservative commentary from Time – other websites will be far less complimentary about the dodgy firm that produced these fraudulent machines.

davo101 4:01 pm 25 Oct 12

pirate_taco said :

I’d like to see two printed copies of the vote – one for the voter to keep (and to check is correct before confirming on-screen), and one to put into a ballot box.

A system with receipts that the voters get to leave with is a bad thing, it opens up the process to corruption because you now have a way of proving you voted in a particular way (in return for cash, favours, threats, etc).

housebound 7:31 pm 24 Oct 12

pirate_taco said :

The lack of proper auditing on the electronic system is a concern though.
I’d like to see two printed copies of the vote – one for the voter to keep (and to check is correct before confirming on-screen), and one to put into a ballot box.
If the electronic record is ever thought to be compromised, it can be re-entered from the paper copy in the ballot box. It can also be randomly audited by scrutineers from the paper copies.
Furthermore, individual voters can also independently verify that their vote is unaltered by looking it up themselves from their own copy.
To ensure anonymity, when you get your name marked off the roll a unique random number is selected by the voter to identify their vote, but is unknown to election officials exactly who belongs to which number.

Glen Takkenberg
Pirate Party ACT

Agree 100%. At least with a paper vote, you know the parties’ scrutineers are looking over the shoulders of AEC staff, reducing the potential for fraud.

I would like to see a statistical comparison of the electronic votes with the paper votes cast at the same time (eg booth by booth or just prepoll and on-the-day). For example, it would be interesting to see if the Greens and Motorists got any sort of boost from being on the top left of the screen on the electronic votes.

pirate_taco 7:17 pm 24 Oct 12

LSWCHP said :

Ian said :

It would be nice to have some candidates who were actually worth voting for, particularly in Ginninderra.

So why don’t you have a shot at it? Serious question.

I’ve sometimes thought I’d like to have a go, but the Golden Rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) means that it would almost certainly be a futile waste of time and money.

Out of all the electorates, I think Ginninderra had the highest number of alternative options, and quite a few really good individual candidates.
I’d like to think that I was one of those good candidates, but as of writing apparently only 273 other people thought so too. It’ll be a long four years trying to win more minds.

After the election is all done, I think it’d be an interesting exercise to get the preference data and re-run the results in another compatible voting system such as the Schulze method. Pirate Party Australia uses it for its internal elections and seems to produce a fair result, though if you think Hare-Clark is complicated…

I was disappointed that more polling places didn’t have the option to use electronic voting. I have more faith in my vote being counted correctly by inputting the data directly into a computer myself rather than it being input by a person or OCR’d into the same system from a pencilled in paper ballot.
The lack of proper auditing on the electronic system is a concern though.
I’d like to see two printed copies of the vote – one for the voter to keep (and to check is correct before confirming on-screen), and one to put into a ballot box.
If the electronic record is ever thought to be compromised, it can be re-entered from the paper copy in the ballot box. It can also be randomly audited by scrutineers from the paper copies.
Furthermore, individual voters can also independently verify that their vote is unaltered by looking it up themselves from their own copy.
To ensure anonymity, when you get your name marked off the roll a unique random number is selected by the voter to identify their vote, but is unknown to election officials exactly who belongs to which number.

Glen Takkenberg
Pirate Party ACT

Matt_Watts 11:00 am 24 Oct 12

Innovation said :

Innovation said :

screaming banshee said :

…..Even without that rule, Damien Haas (who assisted me on my campaign) and I went out looking and couldn’t find the ones we put out by the roadside, at least not where we left them, on our first tour. Another trip will follow tomorrow. It’s a big area, especially for a person like myself who has never been a driver……

Bugger – too quick…. There is probably an obvious explanation but until Zed’s announcement in the last couple of days that he wouldn’t rule out light rail, I wasn’t aware of the Libs ever actively supporting or encouraging light rail especially given all the money promised for road infrastructure. Did I miss a political message or did Damien know something that we didn’t?

I am a personal supporter of light rail, and Damien knew that.

I was with Zed (at the launch of our excellent liquor law policy) when Zed was asked by the media about light rail and he said the Canberra Liberals aren’t ruling it out. That was weeks ago.

With any policy, in any party, you will have those in favour and those against. My impression from within the Libs is that most consider light rail to be a nice idea, and I know many who are personally in favour, yet the main concern has been cost.

In 2008, in fact, the Canberra Liberals were the only party to commit to a fully-funded engineering study into light rail – possibly the only study we haven’t had – to determine the true cost of light rail along specified routes. The idea behind that policy was that the government could have hard figures to work with in deciding whether to proceed or not, as opposed to this year’s policies from the Greens and Labor where numbers were pulled from the sky (and note – they don’t match!). Not even the Greens in 2008 were pushing for light rail (unless I missed it), and Labor was dead against it with Hargreaves as the responsible minister. In this election we were framed as being “anti” because we didn’t rule it out.

I can’t comment on the new party room’s position on light rail, or how negotiations with the Greens will pan out.

My assessment of light rail is that we have three options:

a) decide to never have it;
b) decide we want to commence constuction now; or
c) decide we will need it in the future, in which case we need to plan ahead (ie reserve future light rail routes, etc).

Now – getting back to the original topic – here is an example of how the minutiae of policy positions are lost via the soundbite. One reason I wanted to respond to people’s comments via the RiotACT was to explain that I don’t have a black and white view on many issues. It is difficult, as it’s a choice between sitting at a computer or getting to meet people face to face, but I would like to see more politicians be as open in future elections.

The Internet doesn’t suit everyone, though. Another communication avenue is for candidates to meet voters at shopping centres. I know that will annoy a lot of people, but there are only so many ways to communicate. I want to defend the presence of pollies at shops, although I note there are levels of acceptable behaviour (ie in your face or standing back).

Innovation 9:39 am 24 Oct 12

Innovation said :

screaming banshee said :

…..Even without that rule, Damien Haas (who assisted me on my campaign) and I went out looking and couldn’t find the ones we put out by the roadside, at least not where we left them, on our first tour. Another trip will follow tomorrow. It’s a big area, especially for a person like myself who has never been a driver……

Bugger – too quick…. There is probably an obvious explanation but until Zed’s announcement in the last couple of days that he wouldn’t rule out light rail, I wasn’t aware of the Libs ever actively supporting or encouraging light rail especially given all the money promised for road infrastructure. Did I miss a political message or did Damien know something that we didn’t?

Innovation 9:33 am 24 Oct 12

screaming banshee said :

…..Even without that rule, Damien Haas (who assisted me on my campaign) and I went out looking and couldn’t find the ones we put out by the roadside, at least not where we left them, on our first tour. Another trip will follow tomorrow. It’s a big area, especially for a person like myself who has never been a driver……

Innovation 9:29 am 24 Oct 12

Brindabella said :

Getting the delivery people for all that junk mail, to acknowledge and respect the “No junk mail” stickers on letterboxes.

Tried that in the past too. Doesn’t work and I think they might be legally allowed to still deliver to no junk mail addresses. Hilariously, the Greens once even included an additional leaflet along the lines of saying that we noticed your no junk mail sticker (which was there to reduce to reduce waste) but we felt our material was too important not to deliver.

Another option (especially in Canberra) would be to expand the electoral roll to include optional email addresses. Candidates could email those candidates and be penalised (or funding limited) if they tried to deliver hardcopy material to them.

bundah 9:24 am 24 Oct 12

johnboy said :

Voting from home is a really bad idea guys.

There goes the secret ballot.

And don’t think for a minute there aren’t employers, church leaders, dance instructors, who wouldn’t compel those in their care on the subject of their votes.

Imagine that? Gotta be one of the most ridiculous ideas i’ve heard in a long time!

Innovation 9:22 am 24 Oct 12

Mav said :

johnboy said :

Voting from home is a really bad idea guys.

There goes the secret ballot.

And don’t think for a minute there aren’t employers, church leaders, dance instructors, who wouldn’t compel those in their care on the subject of their votes.

It is a damn fine idea imo, and as for people telling others how to vote well that happens at the moment. Just attend any NT election polling booth and watch people tell the indigenous voters how to vote, they stand with them and point to where they have to put place their votes. They used to share their votes between the two major parties.

I agree. I’m sure that it could be made just as secure as the on site polling booths and I saw plenty of people on the day discussing (instructing?) others on how to vote. Although, judging by the quality of the electronic polling equipment, I doubt our electoral masters yet have the capacity to make such a system secure. On line voting is probably a way off yet but in my view it is an inevitability.

davo101 9:21 am 24 Oct 12

johnboy said :

Voting from home is a really bad idea guys.

There goes the secret ballot.

+ 1

And for the same reason electronic voting is a bad idea.

Mav 9:08 am 24 Oct 12

johnboy said :

Voting from home is a really bad idea guys.

There goes the secret ballot.

And don’t think for a minute there aren’t employers, church leaders, dance instructors, who wouldn’t compel those in their care on the subject of their votes.

It is a damn fine idea imo, and as for people telling others how to vote well that happens at the moment. Just attend any NT election polling booth and watch people tell the indigenous voters how to vote, they stand with them and point to where they have to put place their votes. They used to share their votes between the two major parties.

stillflying 8:55 am 24 Oct 12

Matt_Watts said :

One thing that strikes me is the “dance” of pre-poll. So many people who pre-poll aren’t actually away or working for the whole of Saturday… No way for officials to check (ie plans change, etc). Why not just end the charade and allow the official voting period to be over two weeks?

You seem like a nice guy, and fairly well informed, and I find you kinda agreeable compared to a lot of the other people running.

It’s a shame you were in the wrong party.

maxblues 8:22 am 24 Oct 12

Matt_Watts said :

One thing that strikes me is the “dance” of pre-poll. So many people who pre-poll aren’t actually away or working for the whole of Saturday… No way for officials to check (ie plans change, etc). Why not just end the charade and allow the official voting period to be over two weeks?

Matt, the reason I pre-poll is that I’m a fat bastard who needs to avoid the cupcakes and sizzling sausages and as for officials checking if we are working or not…they don’t even check to see if you are the person you say you are!

Mav 8:05 am 24 Oct 12

Having to use pencils to vote in this day and age is ludicrous. If it can be done by electronic means at prepolling places then surely it can be implemented everywhere, even set it up so you can register online then vote from home. Just give each voter an individual voting identification and then that ID can only be used once in a election vote.

Just think how much quicker the poll results would be and the tally could be instantaneous.

    johnboy 9:02 am 24 Oct 12

    Voting from home is a really bad idea guys.

    There goes the secret ballot.

    And don’t think for a minute there aren’t employers, church leaders, dance instructors, who wouldn’t compel those in their care on the subject of their votes.

Matt_Watts 7:31 am 24 Oct 12

One thing that strikes me is the “dance” of pre-poll. So many people who pre-poll aren’t actually away or working for the whole of Saturday… No way for officials to check (ie plans change, etc). Why not just end the charade and allow the official voting period to be over two weeks?

mutley 2:30 am 24 Oct 12

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

herp derp i don’t know who I’m voting for until im ten metres away from the booth and somebody hands me a shiny brochure and i like the man on the blue brochure because i like blue

It’s a shame you’ve reduced yourself to constantly attacking the man WMC. You used to actually have useful input.

RadioVK 8:38 pm 23 Oct 12

Primal said :

The 100m ban is a beautiful thing.

Isn’t it great?

The simple pleasure of being able to walk in, cast my vote, and walk out without having to tell half a dozen leaflet waving hacks to bugger off was just fantastic.

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