Victorian Electoral Commission to further roll out electronic voting - updated

Linux-based touch screen kiosks to underpin expansion of electronic voting in Victoria

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) is looking to develop a new electronic voting system for the next State election, due on 27 November.

The system under consideration will likely use about 102 touchscreen-based kiosks deployed to mobile and stationary Early Voting Centre sites around Victoria and the United Kingdom.

The early voting period for the 2010 Victorian State election runs from 15 to 26 November.

The voting system would consist of an in-built 19-inch infrared LCD touchscreen and a PC running a 2.6 kernel/Gentoo release of RedHat Enterprise Linux, a USB smart card reader, and a thermal printer, according to VEC documents.

"The proposed e-voting kiosk design will be online, however, they will not have a DNS address and will also have multiple layers of security to identify all traffic. Should online connectivity not be available, the proposed e-voting kiosk design can also function independently," a VEC spokesperson told Computerworld.

E-voting using a telephone will also be available prior to election day, the spokesperson said. The digital system will be available in every early voting centre and will allow people with severely impaired vision to vote independently.

"The e-voting project is a key focus for the VEC in 2010," the spokesperson said.

Electronic voting in the state was last used in the 2006 state election in a pilot at six “E Centres” and was limited to use by vision-impaired people.

The pilot electronic voting systems are designed by HP and Scytl Secure Electronic Voting.

The systems work via the voter receiving an ‘electronic card’ in place of a ballot paper. The card is encoded with a person’s electorate details, along with any display and audio options the voter requests when his or her name is marked off the roll. A voter inserts the card into the voting kiosk which activates the voting process and ensures that the correct ballot papers appear on the screen.

Voters followed instructions provided on the kiosk screen and via head phones, and cast their vote.

Security measures to protect the electoral data included recording votes in two different places in the computer — on the kiosk’s hard disk and on a USB key, and isolating the kiosks from connection to any network to avoid hacking via the Internet.

An uninterruptible power supply that allows the kiosks to operate for at least half an hour in the event of a power failure was also used.

The VEC and an independent expert auditor conducted extensive tests of the source code to ensure that voting is secure, accurate and free from any malicious code was also carried out, the agency said.

Tags e-votingvecVictorian electoral commission

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