Electronic voting and counting
The ACT's electronic voting system is the first of its kind to be used for parliamentary elections in Australia. The electronic voting system was used at the 2008 election in 5 locations in Canberra’s main town centres. The electronic voting system will be used again at the 2012 election in selected locations.
The ACT's electronic voting system was first used at the October 2001 election and was again used at the October 2004 election.
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, 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 ballot paper scanning system will be used again at the 2012 election.
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.
- Frequently asked questions
- The electronic voting process
- Scanning of ballot papers
- Development of the system
- Source code for 2008 software (zipped file in .zip format - 759 kb)The eVACS® source code downloadable here is an extract of the voting, data entry, and counting modules as used by Elections ACT and is provided for study purposes only. Not included are: (a) artefacts produced during the eVACS® development process, such as detailed design specifications; (b) the base Linux operating system and configuration files; (c) the scripts that are used to initialise the vote databases and invoke the eVACS® modules. The design information for the eVACS® system is the property of Software Improvements Pty Ltd. Their website is at www.softimp.com.au/. Bona fide researchers interested in acquiring more of the source code may apply to Software Improvements using the form at: www.softimp.com.au/evacs/contactus.html
- Source code for 2004 software (zipped file in .zip format - 696 kb)
The eVACS® source code available here is the raw code for all eVACS® modules. This source code does not include artefacts produced during the eVACS® development process such as Detailed Design Specifications (DDS). This code is not compiled. The design information for the eVACS® system is the property of Software Improvements Pty Ltd. Their website is at www.softimp.com.au. The source code does not include the configuration files used to configure the underlying Linux Operating Systems, nor the scripts that call the eVACS® modules. In order to build and run the eVACS® modules, you will need a working Linux system with X Windows, PostgreSQL, Apache and gcc.
- Source code for 2001 software(zipped file in 'tar.gz' format - 127 kb)
- *Patch for correcting a minor error in the original software (text file - 1 kb)
- Source code for the casual vacancy module (zip file - 38 kb)
- Software Improvements website
- Consultation paper - Scanning ballot papers at the 2008 ACT Legislative Assembly election (pdf - 67 kb)
*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 http://web.rsise.anu.edu.au/…
- 2004 ACT Legislative Assembly election
- 2004 ACT Legislative Assembly election - Electronic voting and counting system review (pdf - 926 kb)
- 2001 ACT Legislative Assembly election
- Electronic voting and counting system review - executive summary
- Electronic voting and counting system review (pdf - 921 kb)
- Government response to the review
Legislation to allow for the use of electronic voting was passed in December 2000.