The Hutt-Mana Energy Trust is not bound by the Local Electoral Act, but by its own constitution and rules, and has accordingly chosen to offer an internet voting option to electors in its area for the election of trustees next month.
Postal voting forms will still be sent out to all electors; no one will be compelled to vote online, says electoral officer Bob Vine.
The trust has no reason for misgivings on the security front, Vine says. The system has been set up for the trust by specialists Election.com, “and we trust their expertise”.
When a vote is received through the internet or by post, the roll will be scrutinised automatically and the name marked so that any second attempt to cast a vote by post should fail. If any duplicate votes do by chance get through, preference will be given to the choices recorded on the postal vote.
The internet voting option is a further innovative step for the trust, which introduced electronic scanning of votes at its previous election, in 1998. “We had the results within an hour of the poll closing,” Vine says.
This time, a major objective will be to increase voter turnout, at a crucial time for the trust, when its very future existence is in question. Despite negative indications from the US case studies presented at the Iacreot conference, Vine says Election.com’s experience of substantially increased voter turnout in the Arizona state presidential primaries gives every reason for confidence.
The cost of conducting the online poll will be cancelled out by the savings on return postage from unused postal votes “and some other efficiencies we’ve introduced”, he says.
As the executive director of portal company Local Government Online, Vine says he has a particular interest in promoting the use of the internet in the local government sphere.