FAQ

Updated 24 Sep 2016

If you choose to vote by computer, the polling official will mark your name on the roll in the normal way, issue you with a card containing a barcode for your electorate, and direct you to a voting screen containing a computer.

To activate the system, you need to scan the barcode which will then cause the ballot paper for your electorate to be displayed on the computer screen.

You then use four navigation keys on the keypad to track the cursor across and up and down the columns of candidates on the ballot paper.

Four other keys give you the ability to select your candidates, to undo your selections one at a time, to start all over again, and to finish. Each time a candidate is selected, a consecutive number will appear in the box beside the candidate, starting at number 1.

When you have selected all the candidates that you wish to vote for, press the FINISH key and a screen will display your selected candidates in order of preference for you to check. If you made a mistake or change your mind, you can press the UNDO key to go back and change your vote.

If you are satisfied with your vote, you will be asked to scan the barcode again to register your vote. After you have scanned the barcode for the second time you cannot change your vote.

You then place the barcode card in a ballot box on your way out of the polling place.

For more information, go to the electronic voting process page.

No. Computer voting will be available in the 6 pre-poll centres located in Belconnen, Canberra City (Pilgrim House and Eclipse House), Gungahlin, Tuggeranong and Woden during the pre-poll voting period from 27 September to 14 October 2016, as well as on polling day, 15 October 2016.

No. Each electronic voting location will have 23 voting computers. The computers will be locally networked within the polling place with no outside network connection.

Security concerns and the difficulty of providing electors with unique online identifiers are still seen as obstacles that have not yet been overcome. Therefore, the Commission continues to hold the view that electronic voting should only be provided in a controlled environment at polling centres. For more information, please see the Commissioner's discussion paper entitled Politics of the Future: The Internet and the Electoral Process (pdf - 26 kb).

Every electronic polling place is equipped with a voting terminal that can be used by a person seated in the supplied chair or in a wheelchair. Each of these terminals has a 23 inch monitor which faces away from the main room for privacy reasons. These terminals are also equipped with headphones broadcasting recorded spoken instructions to assist voters who are vision impaired.

If you use the headphones, the system invites you to press any key on the voting keypad to hear a description of what that key does. Each function key is also labelled with a tactile label indicating its purpose.

When the ballot paper appears on screen for the first time, you are informed of the name of the electorate and the instructions printed on the screen. As you move around the ballot paper with the direction keys, the audio broadcasts the group letter, registered party name and candidate name highlighted by the cursor. When you indicate preferences by pressing the SELECT key, the system also broadcasts the preference number assigned to each candidate.

When you finish allocating preferences, press the FINISH  key to bring up the confirmation screen and the system will read out your preferences in numerical order. You can then choose to return to the ballot paper and correct any errors or keep voting for more candidates, or confirm the vote by scanning the barcode for a second time.

All polling places are assessed for accessibility. Information on the accessibility rating of each polling place is available together with the reasons for a polling place not being rated as fully accessible.

Yes. The instructions are in 12 languages including English. For the 2016 ACT election, the instruction screens are available in the following languages:

  • Arabic;
  • Chinese – Simplified (Mandarin);
  • Croatian;
  • Greek;
  • Italian;
  • Korean;
  • Lao;
  • Persian / Farsi;
  • Serbian;
  • Spanish; and
  • Vietnamese

You can select any of these languages from the welcome screen.

Each barcode can only be used to cast a vote once. You can change your vote many times, but it will only be recorded when you scan the barcode for the second time. The barcode cannot be used again, or used to unlock your vote, to look at how you voted, to change your vote, or identify you in any way.

A polling official will assist you if this is the case.

No. There is no need to print a copy of any votes. The Electoral Act 1992 does not provide for a "paper trail" of electronic votes cast. This is not required as the software for the voting and counting systems has been rigorously tested, independently audited , and published for anyone to see on the internet. In addition, audit trails and security systems will be in place to verify that the software used in production is identical to the tested and audited software, and to verify that the data actually counted is the data cast by voters in polling places. This approach is intended to ensure that there will be no way in which electronic votes can be tampered with. The system is intended to be more transparent and secure than the existing paper ballot method.

Yes. All paper votes are scanned and the preference numbers on each image are read by Intelligent Character Recognition software. Electoral officials check the interpretations and make corrections to the interpretation as required. When complete these votes are added to the computer votes to get the result of the election.

The preferences will be distributed by using a specifically designed counting program using the Hare-Clark system. The distribution will be exactly the same as if they were counted by hand. For more information about Hare-Clark please see the Hare-Clark fact sheet.

EVACS® is extensively tested by the developers and the ACT Electoral Commission before the Commissioner is satisfied that it is suitable for use at each election. More information on testing.

A reference group, consisting of representatives from parties, MLAs and special interest groups, including ACT Blind Citizens Australia and the Proportional Representation Society, provided feedback during development and testing of the system. More information on consultation.

The Commission contracts an independent software auditing firm to audit the software code of the system to ensure that the software does not contain code that could have the effect of altering the result of the election. For example, checks are undertaken to ensure that no code has been included that would change the votes recorded by electors or insert or substitute fraudulent votes, or could in any other way alter the election outcome. More information on auditing.

Election officials in electronic polling places account for barcodes in much the same way as they do for paper ballots. They provide records of barcodes issued, which are compared with the number of electronic votes cast.

Data is written to 'write once' compact disks and multiple copies of the data are made, which are transported separately to the counting centre. These multiple copies can be compared with one another to prove that no tampering has taken place.

Following the 2008 election, the Commission surveyed a random sample of ballot paper batches from the three electorates and compared the written ballots with the data included in the data file. No data entry errors were found. More information is in the Electronic voting and counting system review (pdf - 921 kb).

CD-ROMs containing voting data are available for purchase. These disks detail the preferences on every formal ballot paper and are available for the 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections only.

The data is derived from the electronic voting and counting system (EVACS®). At the 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections, voters had the choice of casting an electronic vote on a computer in a pre-poll voting centre. In 2001 and 2004, after polling day, preferences shown on all formal paper ballots were entered into EVACS® by data entry operators. In 2008 and 2012, the preference data was entered through a ballot paper scanning system. The scanning system will again be used in 2016.

The electronic voting data is shown separately from the voting data entered from paper ballots, and separate tables are provided for each electorate. The data is arranged to enable selection of individual preferences, a complete ballot paper, or ballot papers from a particular polling place. (Note that for the 2001 election, electronic votes do not identify the polling place).

Data is presented on the CD-ROMs in two formats: as a Microsoft Access 2000 database and as separate text files (the 2001 disk is also presented as an Access 97 database). Explanatory documents are also included.

The disks do not contain any programs that can be used to analyse this data.

Please contact the ACT Electoral Commission for the purchase price of the disks or for more information.

The data is also available from the Elections ACT website at no cost.