DCC rejects Online Voting —expensive experiment avoided

Updated post
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 at 1:36 p.m.

Report – Council – 21/09/2015 (PDF, 141.9 KB)
Online Voting Trial – Final Decision as to Participation

[Mayor Dave Cull] voted against the motion, along with Crs Richard Thompson, David Benson-Pope, and Aaron Hawkins.

### ODT Online Tue, 22 Sep 2015
Council says no to online voting trial
By Craig Borley
Dunedin residents will not be taking part in an online voting trial at next year’s local body elections. […] Dunedin city councillors voted 10-4 at yesterday’s full council meeting to terminate the plan.
Read more

DCC Public Forum 21.9.15
Online Voting Trial
Speakers against ‘voting experiment’ —
Chris Burgess, Beau Murrah and Stu Fleming

### dunedintv.co.nz Mon, 21 Sep 2015
DCC will not take part in nationwide online voting trial
The city council’s heeding public calls against its involvement in an online voting trial for local elections. Councillors have voted not to spend $165,000 taking part in the nationwide trial. And that’s a relief for some residents, who say the costly move comes with significant risk.
Ch39 Link

39 Dunedin Television
DCC will not take part in nationwide online voting trial

Online voting depended on the security not only of the voting process itself, but the digital devices used by individual voters, many of which were vulnerable.

### ODT Online Mon, 21 Sep 2015
Fears for online voting security
By Chris Morris
The Dunedin City Council is being warned online voting could open democracy’s door to hackers. The concern comes from Dunedin based web developer and data protection specialist Chris Burgess, as the council prepares to consider joining an online voting trial.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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17 Comments

Filed under DCC, Democracy, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics

17 responses to “DCC rejects Online Voting —expensive experiment avoided

  1. Hype O'Thermia

    Wouldn’t you think that any council, before even considering online voting, would ascertain that the majority of their citizens had ready internet access?
    Fortunately Stu Fleming turned up to inform our bright s’prats that South Dunedin is HUGELY outside the digital tent, not even within pissing distance.
    Maybe that’s not unrelated to early enthusiasm for online voting. South Dunedinites have one or two reasons for not being all that happy with the current council.

    It’s kind of touching that there’s still that old-time trust, though, among councillors in NZ. Still living in the days when you could go out without locking the door, right?
    Don’t read the newspapers, use the internet mainly for cat videos and facebook, too moral for hanky-panky. Real old-time gents and ladies who’d never heard of Ashley Madison let alone shat barbed wire when it was hacked.

    • Good decision by DCC. Not just the expense is a sorry but the difficulty of any impartial scrutiny the voting could be subjected to by independent agencies who the public could have confidence in. So the really serious threat from central or local government online voting is rigged elections. Yes, hackers of all kinds might get in but for me the greatest threat. Is the government itself (or the string pullers behind the scenes).
      Even though the DCC has declined to participate in this trial, no doubt many councillors voting against to avoid the expense, I fear which ever party leads central government in the near future will be advised by the Department of Internal Affairs advisors that online voting is the cheap, leading edge and efficient way to go. Then it will NOT be a local government choice but a requirement.
      Interesting discussion, where Cr Vandervis (perfectly validly in my opinion) compared the utter lack of transparency inherent in the STV voting system with what could be expected with online voting – and Mayor Cull shut him down.
      Similarly Cr Thomson (again in my opinion correctly) claimed that there was a serious conflict of interest in the fact that the councillors were being advised on the issues by experts from the Department of Internal Affairs who would be contracted to carry out the voting. Like asking a barber if you need a haircut. But Mayor Cull not only shut him down but contradicted him. No, according to Mayor Cull, there was no conflict on interest because the information came from a staff report …. Which, however, the expert advisors had had considerable input into writing.
      Mayor Cull is a rotten chairman. It’s ‘my way or the highway’ and he abuses his power as chair by shutting down any councillor who disagrees with him.
      Much thanks to the three young men with expertise in computer security who made expert and convincing public forum submissions about the very real dangers. The outcome might have been quite different without their input.
      And good to see that the councillors were not swayed by a submission from the Blind Citizens Association in favour of online voting, as empowering for them. There would surely be other ways of ensuring that blind people could exercise their right to a secret ballot.

      {Italics, the editor’s}

      • I wrote: ‘Not just the expense is a problem but so is the difficulty of any impartial scrutiny.’
        But my iPad thinks it knows better with weird autocompletes. Which just demonstrates that the smarter and more complicated the computer systems, the greater the dangers when they stuff up.
        The DIA advisors said online voting is not new and gave many examples of where it has been used for a number of years. Sounding re-assuring to the point of being blasé. Yes, but there is a fundamental difference when you are determining who will hold the greatest power in society over everyone else in society.

        • Hype O'Thermia

          “The DIA advisors said online voting is not new and gave many examples of where it has been used for a number of years.”
          That’s nice.
          It depends a lot on what’s being voted on/for. How high are the stakes? How impassioned are opposing factions (if any factions)?

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Diane: “Mayor Cull is a rotten chairman. It’s ‘my way or the highway’ and he abuses his power as chair by shutting down any councillor who disagrees with him.”
        When you are unable to put up sound arguments to robustly prove the other chap wrong, and you have power, making the other fellow sit down and shut up is all that’s left.
        Limp? Yes.
        Antidemocratic? Sure.
        Out of his depth? Unquestionably.
        Time to bow out “to spend more time with his family”?

  2. Peter

    Why,on earth, would you vote for something with teething problems, at a cost imposed on you….the ratepayers? It is a self defeating move. If the trial becomes unstuck the end result is the option is ditched anyhow as unworkable.
    The fact online voting appears to make little difference to voting turnout is not surprising. People who don’t vote are not always stupid or lazy. It is also a symptom that they are disaffected from the political process. Maybe the councillors could consider why this might be the case instead of just chasing ‘solutions’ with no discernable improvements to voter turnout.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    The thing that appeals with the current system is that for better or worse it leaves a paper trail. That implies the ballot papers are available for review, whereas an online ballot is ethereal and vulnerable to erasure at the whim of a techie. Dave Cull should think long and hard about his autocratic attitude before leaping. Assuming of course that he can think.

    • I actually wonder in this age of massive information exchange and a considerable social adjustment in what can reasonably be considered private information and what can reasonably be considered public information whether we need a secret ballot at all. Government elections at both local and central level might be a lot more secure from fraud if the ballot was not secret and each vote was in fact traceable. If citizens have to fear threat and retaliation on account of the way they vote, then maybe addressing that issue directly would be more pertinent and effective than keeping the ballot secret supposedly to protect them.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        “If citizens have to fear threat and retaliation on account of the way they vote, then maybe addressing that issue directly would be more pertinent and effective than keeping the ballot secret supposedly to protect them.”
        Easier said than done, Diane. When I was distributing bumper stickers and collecting petition signatures during our attempt to stop the Fubar Stadium from being built there were significant numbers of people in business and trades who agreed with us. But they didn’t want to be identified publicly because of what damage it could do to their own businesses. Nothing as overt as arson…. Their tenders for ANY council work, or for the Tartan Mafia, would never win the jobs. What proof is there of blacklisting? None!
        Their kids wouldn’t have the same chances of getting jobs and apprenticeships. Proof that there is any association with defying Dunedin’s movers and shakers / rorters and takers? None. But these men had been working in Dunedin long enough to know how it works.

    • Calvin: the present system is a worry when STV is used. Computer errors may be made here and nobody the wiser. Including those with the supposed expertise to run the elections. I could model the iterations with a small numerical sample (and so could the small number of people who understand the maths behind this system). But there is absolutely no way a large volume of votes could be processed in a reasonable time frame without the use of computers. So the data pretty much goes into a black box which spits out a result at the other end and what happens in the middle is a complete and utter mystery.

  4. Gurglars

    There is an unfortunate gerrymander in the election of local body politicians in Dunedin in any case – whatever method of counting is used.

    The fact is that there are at least 1000 voters with inherent vested interests working with and for the DCC.

    They can elect, merely by block voting, for candidates that suit the ways of the left. That is one reason why we have not reductions in staff, reductions in debt or critical evaluations of such enterprises as cycleways, food security? stadium debt and interest rate swaps. Nor the examination of staff’s involvement in theft, defalcation and contract fraud.

    Such critical examination is not going to come from those elected by staff who have no interest in critical evaluation of such matters.

    • Calvin Oaten

      That is so true Gurglars. The whole system is gerrymandered by one person. That is Mayor Dave Cull. He alone has the power to appoint chairs and hand out other responsibilities, he has surrounded himself with his Greater Dunedin acolytes (both councillors and bureaucrats), making himself well nigh impregnable. Just watch how he controls meetings and deals to those on the outer. Cr Lee Vandervis is the classic example of his wretched malice. It might work for strong positioning, but it sure as hell is bad for the city. The more so when it has been amply demonstrated there is no intellect sustaining his position.

  5. Gurglars

    Perhaps a political intellect, but certainly no commercial intellect.

    In any business thieves are rooted out exposed and prosecuted to establish the rules. Not at the DCC.

    Only dead men are so villified. They take the rap for the rest of the guilty.

  6. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Wed, 23 Sep 2015
    Editorial: Too soon for internet voting
    OPINION When we cast our election votes a fundamental criteria must always be the integrity of the system. Until that can be guaranteed, caution in adopting internet voting is appropriate. […] Although some [DCC] councillors and senior staff might like the idea of being at the forefront of matters modern, their egos should be put aside for basic dollars and sense.
    Read more

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Ooh-arrr, getting a bit pointed here aren’t we?
      “Although some [DCC] councillors and senior staff might like the idea of being at the forefront of matters modern, their egos should be put aside for basic dollars and sense.”

      • Elizabeth

        Moments like this (a number of them now) give me hope that new editor Barry Stewart has OWN view of what DCC comprises. Hooray.

  7. Elizabeth

    Further to what our local IT people said to Council in the last Public Forum:

    ### radionz.co.nz Thu, 8 Oct 2015
    RNZ National – Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan
    New technology with Andy Linton
    11:08 AM. On-line voting and our increasing reliance on “big data”. Andy Linton has more than 30 years’ experience in computer networking in the telecommunications industry and the academic sector. He currently spends his time teaching and helping build networks in developing regions around the world.
    Audio | Download: Ogg MP3 (duration 14′ : 12″)

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