FAQ

Updated 30 Sep 2020

Electronic voting is available at all early voting centres for the 2020 election during the 3-week voting period from Monday, 28 September to Saturday 17 October. Early voting centres are open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm, with extended hours on Fridays until 8pm. These polling places are also open on 17 October, the final day of voting, from 8am to 6pm.

Electronic voting offers a more COVID-safe voting option. It reduces the need for voters and polling officials to handle ballot papers and the touch screens used are easily and regularly disinfected. Strict hygiene measures are in place for electronic and paper ballot voting and social distancing observed.

If you choose to vote electronically, the polling official will mark your name on the roll in the usual way and issue you with an e-voting card with a QR code for your electorate on it. You will be directed to a voting screen with a touch screen computer terminal.

First you will need to select the language you wish to use, from a list of twelve including English. Once you have done this, scanning your e-voting card will commence the the voting process. The ballot paper screen for your electorate will be displayed.

You then select the candidates you wish to give preferences to, in order, using the touchscreen. Each time you select a candidate, a consecutive number will appear in the box beside that candidate, starting at the number 1.

If you make a mistake, you can correct it by selecting ‘Undo last choice’ or by tapping again on the most recent selection to remove it. You can also use ‘Clear all choices’ to remove all the preferences you have entered.

Staff are available to help you if you request assistance. You can use ‘Hide my vote’ before asking for help. This hides the ballot paper screen to ensure the privacy of your vote.

When you have finished choosing candidates, select ‘Next’. A new screen displays your completed vote, displaying your selections in the order you have chosen. Use this screen to check that this is the way that you intend to cast your vote. You then either select ‘Go back’ if you wish to make changes or scan your e-voting card again to finalise your vote. It is important that you scan your e-voting card this second time to finalise your vote.

Lastly, you place your e-voting card in the ballot box on your way out of the polling place. It cannot be used again.

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

You are able to vote at any of the fifteen early voting centres open across Canberra from the beginning of the 2020 election voting period on Monday, 28 September to the close of voting at 6pm on Saturday, 17 October.

Additional polling places are open on Saturday, 17 October only. They will not have electronic voting due to the logistical difficulties required to set up the equipment for a single day.

No. Each electronic polling place has multiple voting terminals. These terminals are networked to the server within the polling place with no outside network connection.

Electronic voting is available during the election period from Monday, 28 September through to Saturday, 17 October. Early voting centres and additional polling places for Saturday, 17 October are assessed for their accessibility. The accessibility ratings are available on the Elections ACT website together with the reasons for not being rated ‘fully accessible’ where applicable.

Electronic polling places are equipped with an electronic voting terminal that can be used by a person seated in the chair supplied or in a wheelchair. Each terminal has a 23 inch monitor facing away from the main room for privacy. The terminal is also equipped with headphones that deliver recorded audio instructions to guide a voter through the ballot paper and a keypad. This allows a voter with vision impairment to vote independently.

The voter is issued with an e-voting card to activate the system. If the voter is using the headphones, the system then invites the voter to press any key on the voting keypad to hear a description of what that key does.

When the ballot paper appears on screen for the first time, the voter is informed of the name of the electorate and the instructions printed on the screen. As the voter moves around the ballot paper with the direction keys, the audio reads out the group letter, registered party name and candidate name highlighted by the cursor.

When the voter indicates preferences by pressing the SELECT key, the system confirms the preference number assigned to each candidate through the headphones.

When finished allocating preferences, the voter presses the FINISH key. This brings up the confirmation screen and the system reads out the preferences in numerical order. The voter can then choose either to return to the ballot paper and make alterations or to confirm the vote by scanning their e-voting card for a second time.

Telephone voting is also available for electors who are blind or have visual impairment or have a disability that makes it physically problematic to travel to a polling place during the 3-week voting period. More information on telephone voting services, refer to the Telephone voting FAQs.

Yes. The instructions are in 12 languages including English. For the 2020 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 e-voting card 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 e-voting card for the second time. The e-voting card 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. Polling officials check the interpretations and make corrections to the interpretation as required. When complete these votes are added to the  votes cast electronically to get the result of the election. Scrutineers appointed by parties and candidates oversee this process.

The voting data is stored electronically until the next election and is available to use in a count back of votes for any casual vacancies that occur during the term of the elected Assembly.

The preferences will be distributed by using a counting program specifically designed for the Hare-Clark system. The process of distribution is 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.

Historically, 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 the original 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 e-voting cards in much the same way as they do for paper ballots. They provide records of e-voting cards issued which are compared with the number of electronic votes cast.

Data is written to encrypted portable memory devices and multiple copies of the data are made, which are transported separately to the counting centre. These multiple copies, along with the use of hash-codes, can be compared with one another to prove that no tampering has taken place.

Following each election, the Commission surveys a random sample of scanned ballot paper batches from each electorate and compares the final electronic interpretation with the data included in the scanned ballot paper data file. No errors have so far been identified, indicating that electronic scanning and counting is highly accurate. More information is in the Electronic voting and counting system review (pdf - 921 kb).

Yes. The preferences on every formal ballot paper are available from the Elections ACT website for each of the elections in which electronic voting has been used: 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Preference data for the 2020 election will also be made available following the election.

The data is derived from the electronic voting and counting system (EVACS®). At the 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections, voters had the choice of casting an electronic vote on a computer in an early 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, 2012 and 2016, the preference data was entered through a ballot paper scanning system. The scanning system will again be used in 2020.

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 as separate text files. Explanatory documents are also provided.

The data is not provided with any programs that can be used to analyse the data.

The preference data for each election is available on the webpage dedicated to each ACT election.