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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 4403 ..


minimising the potential for incorrect or inappropriate code that threatens the integrity of the election outcome. In relation to the ballot paper scanning system, the Commission addresses the risk of malicious or incorrect code by employing an independent professional organisation to audit the software, certifying that the code does not introduce any form of manipulation. A stringent testing regime, comparing known results from hand counts with the outputs from scanning, also confirms the appropriateness of the code.

In addition to these factors, the commercial nature of the development of these systems, where the vendors maintain a commercial interest in the IP of the system, would have resulted in significantly higher costs to the Territory if a requirement for public display of the source code was built into the development contract.

2. The Commission does follow this best practice methodology where it believes it appropriate. As described above the Commission believes that an open source methodology is essential for the electronic voting and counting system. For the systems that do not directly accept or count votes, the Commission considers that the benefits and purpose of open source code are not as valid.

3. The source code for the ACT's electronic voting and counting system has been made available prior to each ACT election since the system's introduction at the 2001 ACT Legislative Assembly Election. The Commission intends to continue with this practice into the future.

The Commission considers that due to the nature of the electoral roll product and its impact upon the ultimate result of the election, there is little benefit from scrutineer review of this system.

The commercial nature of the ballot paper scanning system makes it more difficult to release the code for public scrutiny. The vendor's intellectual property would be significantly at risk to its competitors if the code were to be made public. The additional cost to the Territory in requiring the public release of the code would be significant; potentially prohibitive. The Commission considers that an appropriate level of transparency can be achieved by employing an independent expert to audit the code to ensure no malicious or unintentional issues are occurring within the code. The Commission undertakes this practice before each ACT election.

4. The cost to the Territory would be considerably higher if the Commission was to negotiate the public release of the source code of these commercially developed electoral roll and ballot paper scanning systems. An appropriate level of transparency is achieved through independent expert auditing of the code prior to each election to ensure code integrity. Accordingly, the Commission has weighed the benefits of requiring pubic release of such commercially sensitive vendor code against the risks and costs, and concluded that not requiring release of this code strikes an appropriate balance between cost efficiency and transparency of our electoral systems.

5. The ACT Electoral Commission maintains a watchful eye on advancements into online voting both overseas and in other Australian jurisdictions. While noting that some other Australian jurisdictions have moved to adopt internet voting, the Commission remains cautious regarding the introduction of internet voting for ACT elections. As recent developments have demonstrated, online transactional databases are currently at high risk of technical failure and interference by unauthorised persons or organisations. The Commission notes that any failure of an internet voting system could result in election results being overturned in the courts and diminished public confidence in our electoral


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