Amid security controversy, NSW Electoral Commission heralds iVote usage

More than 280k votes recorded by iVote in 2015 election, up from 46,000 votes cast in 2011 ballot

More than 280,000 votes were cast using the NSW Electoral Commission’s e-voting system, iVote, during the 2015 election, an increase from the 46,000 votes cast online in 2011.

The iVote system provided access to online voting for those with vision impairment and other disabilities, people who live more than 20 kilometres from a polling place or who were interstate or overseas on election day.

According to NSW Electoral Commissioner Colin Barry, online voting in the state election had been “a great success.”

“The staggering increase in voters using the iVote system demonstrates that confidence and demand for secure online voting systems is growing despite ill-intended efforts to discredit its integrity," he said in a statement.

Barry was referring to research posted by University of Melbourne Department of Computing and Information Systems research fellow, Vanessa Teague, and Michigan Centre for Computer Security and Society director, J Alex Halderman, which questioned the security of the iVote system.

“The server has very poor security. It is vulnerable to a range of SSL attacks, including the recently discovered FREAK attack,” wrote the researchers on 22 March.

NSW Electoral Commission CIO Ian Brightwell has said claims about vulnerabilities in iVote were overstated.

“The proposed FREAK attack requires a high level of technical expertise and a number of pre-conditions to be successful and as such is not considered a real threat to iVote. We have been advised that the likelihood of someone intercepting votes online using this approach is as real as a malicious postman replacing a postal vote,” Brightwell said in a statement.

Fairfax Mediahas reported that the Animal Justice Party is mulling a legal challenge after an iVote error meant it and another group were left off the `above the line’ section of the ballot paper.

Approximately 19,000 votes were cast before iVote was suspended and the problem was fixed, Fairfax reported.

The NSW Electoral Commission has been approached for comment.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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