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Electronic voting and counting

5 Jul 2012

The ACT's electronic voting system was the first of its kind to be used for parliamentary elections in Australia. The electronic voting system was first used at the 2001 ACT Legislative Assembly election and has been used at all subsequent elections in 2004, 2008 and at the most recent election in 2012 where it featured at 6 locations across Canberra’s main town centres.

The system uses standard personal computers as voting terminals, with voters using a barcode to authenticate their votes. Voting terminals are linked to a server in each polling location using a secure local area network. No votes are taken or transmitted over a public network like the Internet. For a description of how to cast an electronic vote, click here.

The electronic voting system is used in the pre-poll voting centres, which are open for 3 weeks before polling day, and which open on election day as ordinary polling places. In polling places that do not have electronic voting, voters still use traditional paper ballots. In electronic polling places, voters are given a choice of voting electronically or on paper.

Electronic counting, which combines the counting of electronic votes and paper ballots, was first used in the ACT at the October 2001 election and was again used in the October 2004 election. In 2001 and 2004, preferences shown on paper ballots were data-entered by two independent operators, electronically checked for errors, and manually corrected if required.

In 2008 and 2012, an intelligent character recognition scanning system was used to capture preferences on paper ballots, with intensive manual checks used to ensure a very high level of accuracy. This data was then combined with the results of the electronic voting, and the computer program distributed preferences under the ACT's Hare-Clark electoral system.

The software for the electronic voting and counting system was built using Linux open source software, which was chosen specifically for this electoral system to ensure that election software is open and transparent and could be made available to scrutineers, candidates and other participants in the electoral process.

The electronic voting and counting system

The software for the electronic voting and counting system (EVACS) was built and is owned by Software Improvements.

*We are grateful to members of the Australian National University's Computer Science Laboratory and NICTA's Logic and Computation Programme for finding and reporting this minor error. For more information see…

2012 Election

2008 Election

2004 Election

2001 Election


Legislation to allow for the use of electronic voting was passed in December 2000.

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