A report looking at the feasibility of online voting for local body elections has been welcomed by Associate Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
In September 2013, Cabinet agreed to establish a working party to consider the feasibility of online voting in New Zealand’s local elections.
The working party met from December 2013 to May 2014 and has now reported back with its recommendations.
Lotu-Iiga says the working party found online voting for local elections is feasible with the report claiming that online voting has the potential to enhance the operation of local democracy and offer New Zealanders a more accessible and convenient option to cast their vote.
“One of the major benefits of online voting is as a tool of convenience," he says. "It would enable voters to act on their intention to vote quicker, easier and in a forum more in line with the modern digital age.
“We have seen good examples of that recently with the census, where 35 per cent of forms were completed online in 2013, which is up from 7 per cent in 2006.”
World Internet Project New Zealand data from 2013 shows that 92 per cent of New Zealanders are currently online, up from 78 per cent in 2007 - it also shows that 98 per cent of Kiwis have access to broadband speed internet, up from 69 per cent in 2007.
“However, it is essential for us to examine carefully the associated costs, practicalities and most importantly the security of online voting,” Lotu-Iiga adds.
Over the next few months the Department of Internal Affairs intends to engage with local government and central government agencies to analyse the report and formulate a response.
The report - Online Voting in New Zealand – Feasibility and options for local elections - was prepared by an Online Voting Working Party which reported to the Department of Internal Affairs.
The report has been published online and can be viewed at: www.dia.govt.nz/online-voting