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Australia is ready for electronic voting, says internet industry body

In the wake of Australia's recent election, the Australian Information Industry Association has called for Australia to adopt an electronic voting system.

David Gould, Getty Images

As the Australian Electoral Commission returns to counting the results from Saturday's as-yet undecided federal election, one group is making a call for Australia to embrace electronic voting.

Citing efficiency and economic savings, Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) says the time is right for electronic voting. The system could include computer-based voting stations at polling booths, voting online, or even voting via a mobile phone

In a media statement Rob Fitzpatrick, CEO of the AIIA, said, "With electronic voting in place, we would have known the results of our election minutes after the polls closed on Saturday, and everyone could get on with their jobs."

Australia already has a few online voting systems, including Electronically Assisted Voting that has been used in Victorian state elections since 2006. In New South Wales, iVote, a remote electronic voting system, was introduced for the 2011 state election. It's mainly used for voters with visual impairments or reading difficulties, or those over 20km away from a polling both.

"If you ask any security expert in the world if we should be using online voting they will invariably say no," says Rageev Gore professor at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science. "It's just too vulnerable.

"There are thousands of lines of code that make this work and within that code there is likely to be a mistake."

More importantly, says Gore, online voting could be manipulated without the knowledge of voters or potentially even the tally room.

Gore cited the work of J. Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan. In 2015 Halderman demonstrated security flaws within the NSW iVote system, flaws that were downplayed by the NSW Electoral Commission.

Previously Halderman had commented on significant security issues with the Estonian online voting system and in 2012 he and another group successfully compromised a public trial of the Washington DC online voting system. The team changed every single vote and remained undetected for 48 hours, despite leaving a deliberate and prominent 'calling card' to alert people that something was wrong.