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Digital ID advances can ease online voting in Australia, former election official suggests

Digital ID advances can ease online voting in Australia, former election official suggests

Australia’s former New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC) chief information officer (CIO) Ian Brightwell has suggested that digital ID credentials be accepted for online voting, but only after extensive testing.

Comments on his submission to the ongoing review into the appropriateness of technology-assisted voting (TAV) for future elections were recently spotted by InnovationAus.

They are offered to an ongoing review launched after the former iVote platform in 2021 was decommissioned due to “insufficient time” to upgrade the necessary software provided by Spain-based vendor Scytl.

In the comments, Brightwell admits that from a technological standpoint, it would be challenging to use geolocation to verify the eligibility of elector classes for TAV. However, he says, government or private sector digital IDs could provide that function. Government IDs that could be used include Service NSW accounts and the federal government’s myGovID.

The ex-NSWEC executive adds that digital IDs should be reliably linked to the electors’ electoral roll record. This would require “special legislation” and could be unpopular with Australians.

“To my knowledge, this link had not been done and would need to be done well before an election and fully tested,” Brightwell adds. “This type of data matching will also probably need special legislation, which may be challenging given the public’s aversion to ‘Australia Card’ type identification.”

Scytl also submitted comments for the review, saying that while the iVote system did not work out as planned, it is the company’s view that Scytl technology has helped to bring secure online voting forward.

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