Revealed: The technology behind NSW State Election 2011

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Revealed: The technology behind NSW State Election 2011

Virtual tally room supported by iPhone app, internet voting.

The NSW Electoral Commission has revealed improved IT systems to aid voters in the March 26 state election, including an iPhone app with results from a virtual tally room.

The election will be the first in the state without a physical voting Tally Room for politicians and the media, said state Electoral Commission's chief information officer Ian Brightwell.

The commission calculated that the physical election Tally Room for the 2007 election cost $391,235.

A commission report to Parliament determined that it would not be prudent to have a physical tally room this year because it "was not well attended by registered political parties, political leaders or the media on election night".

"The increasing use of the internet as the primary source of election results calls into question the need for an expensive central results location," the report said.

The commission will enhance its virtual tally room website and complement it with an iPhone app created by Sydney developers eGloo Technologies. (see photo gallery above for exclusive screenshots).

XML results updates

The commission will publish to the internet rolling updates of XML results data for each Legislative Assembly electorate and the Legislative Council.

They will be stored on the NSWEC FTP server and be available to individuals and organisations interested in reinterpreting or visualising the data.

SmartROLL

The ongoing SmartROLL Automatic Enrolment data sharing project - operated with partners such as the Roads and Traffic Authority and Board of Studies - sees electoral records created on age qualification or amended to reflect a change of address.

The commission expected to have 'smartrolled' some 40,000 voters before the election out of an estimated 800,000 who are either not on the electoral roll or incorrectly enrolled.

Late commencement of enabling legislation prevented a larger rollout.

Brightwell said that "younger generations brought up with the internet were reluctant to fill out paper forms".

"But when they were informed about electronic auto enrolment their feedback is quite positive with responses like 'That's great, why wasn't it done before?'" he said.

Electronic reminders

The NSWEC Election Reminder Facility (ERF) has been in place for years.

More than 100,000 voters opted to receive an email and/or SMS when a local government or state parliamentary election coming up to ensure they update electoral roll details and remember to vote.

Technology assistance

The NSW Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Further Amendment Act 2010, which came into force on December 7, provided for technology-assisted voting for those with impaired vision or other disabilities, and for those unable to vote by reason of location such as living more than 20 kilometres from a polling booth or being interstate or overseas on election day.

Remote electronic voting system iVote was created to enable votes to be case by telephone or the internet.

iVote users could include approximately 13,000 blind voters, 54,000 with low vision, 330,000 with other disabilities, 30,000 living in remote or rural areas, Australian Defence Force personnel on tours of duty scientists in Antarctica and expatriates.

The expectation was that about 10,000 votes would be cast using the technology this year but that could be exceeded based on enrolment levels.

Richard Carroll, election advertising and communication officer for the commission told iTnews that four in five people registering to use iVote came in through its website.

More than 90 percent of iVote registrations were from interstate and overseas voters who have been "taking it up in droves and are pleased with the easy registration process", he said.

iVote opens on March 14 and closes at 6pm EDST on March25 - a day before the official election.

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