Recent amendments to the Electoral Act 1992 assist vision-impaired voters

The State Government has introduced amendments to the Electoral Act 1992 that will, for the first time, enable voters with a vision impairment to have the same right to a secret ballot as other voters.

Under the existing system, voters who cannot complete a ballot paper independently had to communicate their voting decisions to someone else, a family member or an electoral visitor, so that the ballot paper could be completed on their behalf.

Under the new reforms, the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) can authorise votes to be cast using an electronic system such as the Internet or touch-tone phone. The amendments provide for independent auditing of the information technology used, before and after each election, to ensure its integrity.

The ECQ has the power to stop electronically assisted voting if there are emergent security concerns or technical issues with the information technology to be used. The Minister also retains the power to order a review of the use of electronically assisted voting.

It will be an offence for a person to disclose any source code or other computer software related to electronically assisted voting or to destroy or interfere with any computer program, data file or electronic device used for, or in connection with, electronically assisted voting.

While the priority is to implement electronically assisted voting for those who cannot currently do so without assistance, the government supports electronic voting for all Queensland voters, so we may see wider implementation in the future.

The information in this publication is provided for general purposes only. It is not to be relied on as a substitute for legal advice. Crown Law and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General accept no liability for losses caused by reliance on the material in this publication. Formal legal advice should be obtained for particular matters.

Published: 30 August 2014

Author: Melinda Pugh