Internet voting company comes to Australia

Online voting company Election.com has landed in Australia and is already in discussions with the Australian Electoral Commission.

However, according to a spokeswoman from the Commission "there is absolutely no way" any form of internet voting will be used at Australia's next Federal Election.

"It is very early days," she said.

"(As yet) no-one can provide a solution to meet the needs for our organisation."

According to the spokesperson, the next Federal Election must be held no later than January 12, 2002.

The spokeswoman confirmed that the AEC and Election.com have had "some preliminary discussions", but said no formal business arrangements have been agreed upon.

"(Internet voting) is something we have been keeping a watching brief on... we are certainly not discounting it," she said.

Security, technical, financial and access issues still need to be resolved in Australia for online voting to feasible, she said.

On the other hand, Election.com, with its history of conducting more than 600 online elections in the US, believes it has what it takes to service the AEC.

"We believe we have the technology and security to make it possible," Frank Nesci, Election.com's Australia managing director said.

Election.com launched in Australia today, announcing it has acquired Canberra-based technology company Know1 and Brisbane election services company, Ballot and Election Solutions.

Under the agreements, Know1 has been wholly acquired by Election.com and Ian Coombe, managing director of Know1 will become Election.com's technical director for Australia. Ballot & Election Solutions principal, Richard Kidd will join Election.com as the director of operations, Queensland under the agreement in which Election.com has acquired technology and contractors.

Nesci said the agreement with Know1 and Ballot and Election Solutions will be critical to Election.com's Australian strategy.

"We will work with local talent to fast-track internet voting in Australia and the region," he said.

In addition to the AEC, Nesci said Election.com has already been in discussions with several organisations regarding the merits of online voting.

Election.com received considerable fame earlier this year when it conducted the first legally-binding election using the internet for the Arizona Democratic Presidential Primary election.

According to Bill Taylor, Election.com's senior president of election services, around 50 per cent of the 80,000 Arizonans who voted in the election used the internet to cast their vote. 13,000 people voted online alone during the first day of the election, he said.

Taylor said Election.com's solutions are not designed to replace traditional paper-based voting procedures. Rather, they are designed to offer an alternative method for voting.

"We are not talking about replacement. We are providing an additional method of voting," he said.

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