Overseas e-voting (OSEV)

Updated 6 Oct 2020

Electronic voting icon

In September 2019, following analysis of the operational outcomes of 2016 ACT election, the ACT Electoral Commission tabled a report in the Legislative Assembly recommending legislative change to provide for a limited electronic voting option for electors who are overseas during the voting period for an ACT election. The recommended initiative by the Electoral Commission sought an innovative solution to the increasing challenges of ensuring eligible overseas ACT electors continued to have access to high quality electoral services, providing for their participation in an ACT election.

In July 2020, legislation was passed in the Assembly enabling online electronic voting for overseas ACT electors for the 2020 ACT election. To be eligible to vote using the overseas e-voting system, ACT electors must be in an overseas location at the time of voting. Postal voting also continues to be an option for electors based overseas.

Like a traditional postal vote, an overseas e-vote is considered a declaration vote.

A declaration vote is a vote where the elector must declare that they are eligible to vote in the election and that they are who they say they are.

After the polls close for the election, Elections ACT will perform a ‘preliminary scrutiny’ on all declaration votes, reviewing the eligibility of the elector to vote in the election and ensuring that they have not voted by any other means. The overseas e-voting system does this by exporting the elector’s details (separating them from the actual vote – just like a traditional declaration vote), making a determination on eligibility and then re-importing them back into the system, to connect the eligibility determination with the vote.

All ‘admitted’ votes are then exported (separated again from any connection to the elector), decrypted and imported into the electronic counting system with all other votes from the election.

The overseas e-voting system has been designed with security, integrity and confidentiality at its core.

The overseas e-voting system implements various security provisions to ensure that each vote is kept secret and secure. A voter's personal information is separated from vote preferences throughout the process and the system architecture has been designed to minimise any security risks.

The critical system components that make up the overseas e-voting system maintain complete segregation within the cloud hosting environment, utilising TLS encryption for all data transmitted in transit and at rest.

All votes are digitally signed to ensure that the vote has not been altered at any stage. Each vote is separately encrypted using a public certificate of an asymmetric encryption algorithm, which can only be decrypted with a private key that is not stored within the system itself.

The Electoral Commission consulted with the Australian Cyber Security Centre throughout the development and implementation of the system as well as having the code independently audited and certified to ensure that it does not include code that could change the votes recorded by electors, maliciously or otherwise, or would insert or substitute fraudulent votes or would in any other way alter the election outcome.

OSEV

  • Frequently asked questions
  • The source code for the 2020 ACT Legislative Assembly OSEV system is available upon request. Any third party who requests the system source code for the purpose of assessing the integrity and security of the system, will be required to sign a Deed of Confidentiality. Once signed, the code will be provided. The Deed includes a 60-day notification period, providing a specified allotment of time for a third-party to work with Elections ACT regarding any findings. After the 60-day notification period elapses findings are able to be published. To obtain the OSEV source code for review, email elections@act.gov.au

Legislation

Legislation to allow for the use of overseas electronic voting was passed in July 2020.