I-Voting Breaking Down Accessibility Barriers at Next NSW State Election

Feb 3, 2011

Our political system is said to be a democracy – that is, each and every Australian has a right to cast their vote on who they deem most appropriate to
lead our government; whether it be at a local, state or federal level. For years, however, the paper ballot has complicated this basic freedom for people who are blind or vision impaired both in NSW and Australia.

The NSW Electoral Commission has been taking positive steps towards making the voting process more accessible for all NSW residents; including people with a disability. The Equal Access to democracy Action Plan, which was created through consultation with peak advocacy bodies and key service providers in the disability sector aims to address all barriers to voting in the wider community.

Blind Citizens Australia is proud to announce that at the March 2011 election, the iVote will become available for any person with a disability living in NSW.

iVote is the general term which has been given to the two major innovations which will be utilized in the 2011 State Election; Phone and internet voting.

The procedure for telephone voting is similar to that which is used for phone banking and other services that the elector may already be familiar with.
The system uses human speech rather than synthetic speech to ensure that it can be easily understood and makes the voting experience as pleasant as possible for electors. Similarly, the internet system boasts a high level of accessibility and complies with government standards.

Unlike the electronic system which was trialled in the last federal election, the iVote system will allow electors to cast their vote from their own home; or from any other location in Australia

How does iVoting Work?

In order to complete your vote using either the internet or telephone system, you will be required to register for iVote. This can either be done over the internet or by calling a designated iVote centre. When you register, you will be asked to supply a six digit PIN. A letter will be sent to your enrolled address confirming your application for iVote.

Once the Electoral Roll has closed, you will be supplied with an eight digit iVote number. You can choose to have your iVote number sent to you via email or SMS. Alternatively, there is also a telephone option available for those who may be unable to access these mediums.

To cast your vote, you may opt to use either the phone or internet system. You will need both your eight digit iVote number and your six digit PIN which you supplied at the time of application in order to complete this process.

After signing in, you will be provided with the Legislative Assembly ballot paper for your district, followed by the Legislative Council ballot paper. You can take a break from voting at any time, as long as you return within a 12 hour period. The system will automatically remember where you are up to.

You will also have the opportunity to review your completed ballot paper before it is submitted. If using the phone system, this means that your preferences will be read back to you.

Once your vote has been submitted, you will be issued with a receipt number. This receipt number can be used at a later date to confirm that your vote was counted.

Phone and Internet voting will finally make casting a secret, independent and verifiable vote a true reality for people who are blind or vision impaired living in NSW – So get behind iVoting at the March 2011 state election and make your vote count.

Lauren Henley
NSW Advocacy and Information Officer
Blind Citizens Australia
Ph: (02) 9744 9844