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Online voting set for 2016 elections trial

A trial of online voting will take place in the 2016 local authority elections, Local government Minister Chris Tremain has revealed.

Citing online transactions as the future, Tremain says the government is committed to rolling out digital services for New Zealanders.

“I have asked the Department of Internal Affairs to put together a working party from across government and local authorities and with information technology experts," he says.

"They will consider the options, costs and security issues involved in online voting.

“Voter turnout in local body elections is traditionally low and we need to look at other ways to encourage people to become involved in the democratic process.

“Online voting will be more convenient and appeal to young voters. It will also make it easier for people with disabilities to vote."

Tremain claims there is a high level of interest from the sector in online voting with organisations like the Porirua City Council and the Manawatu District Council volunteering to take part in the trial.

“Robust regulations need to be in place so voters have trust and confidence in the system," he adds.

"The working party will be assessing the security and technology used in public elections overseas to mitigate risk.

“Once the working party reports its findings the next step will be to formulate a plan to implement online voting in local body elections.

“The Government RealMe service will be used to enable online voting. New Zealanders who have a RealMe logon can now update their electoral enrolment details online.

"The Electoral Amendment Bill recently introduced will enable electors with a RealMe verified identity to enrol online.”

Waitemata Local Board member for Auckland's Inner-City Rob Thomas is a prolific social media user and supporter of voting online.

"Local Government has a major impact on people's day to day life from having reliable public transport that turns up on time to delivering movies in your local park," Thomas says.

"The current postal voting system is expensive and impracticle for this modern age. I would welcome voting online in local government elections to encourage a greater voter turnout especially amongst young people."

"If we can transfer money online safely then we should be able to vote online."

"Shifting local government online is a way to connect and engage with communities like never before."

Is online voting the way forward? Will it take off? Tell us your thoughts below