The Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand says rejecting a trial of online voting will be a major blow for disabled people.
“We all value the idea of a fully confidential vote. But imagine if you could only vote by telling someone else and having them cast your vote for you,” the organisation says in a statement. “That is what it is like for blind people and many others with disabilities who cannot fill in the voting forms for ourselves.”
Clive Lansink, National President of Blind Citizens NZ, says it would be a major blow if New Zealand says no to the chance to trial online voting at next year’s local government elections, “just because Christchurch City Council has.”
"We understand the security concerns some may have about online voting,” Lansink says. “But are these concerns genuinely more serious than what happens when voting papers are just scattered through the post and through everyone's houses for some weeks, as is the case with local government elections?
“Can we really be confident that the voting papers received and counted have genuinely come from each individual", he asks.
Lansink says Blind Citizens NZ hopes that common sense will prevail and people will objectively assess and compare any risks associated with online voting against the problems inherent in the existing system.
“Fears about security must be objectively justified,” he says. “We urge New Zealanders to embrace the chance to move towards a more inclusive society in which there are new ways to cast your vote with confidence, which meet the needs of blind people and others who are shut out.”