The NSW Electoral Commission announced yesterday that the internet voting system iVote won’t be available for the 2023 state election, after the system crashed at last year’s council elections, possibly resulting in three council election results being voided.
iVote started out with just over 1% of the total vote in 2011, expanding to over 6% in 2015 and about 5% in 2019.
iVote was first used for council elections in 2021. Absent votes doesn’t exist for council elections, so the only way to cast a vote on the day outside of a council area was to cast an iVote, which led to a big last-minute surge in applications, crashing the system and preventing some people from casting a vote. I am sure that the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to more people wanting to vote online.
While I think iVote can play an important role as a substitute for voters who aren’t well-served by postal voting (such as overseas or remote voters), and those with low vision, I think the increasing scope has been a problem. Internet voting will always be popular with voters, and mission creep could very easily see it expanding beyond what was intended. Meanwhile there now won’t be any online option in 2023, and it is very unclear what might come next.