Nine local authorities are preparing to trial online voting as part of the 2019 local authority elections.
The participating councils, through Local Government NZ (LGNZ), are seeking a hosted online voting system that, as a baseline expectation, is as secure as current postal voting.
According to an advanced notice of tender issued by LGNZ, the participating councils are Auckland Council, Gisborne District Council, Hamilton City Council, Marlborough District Council, Matamata-Piako District Council, Palmerston North City Council, Selwyn District Council, Tauranga City Council and Wellington City Council.
The Local Electoral Matters Bill, now before Parliament, includes changes to the legal framework governing local body elections to enable the trial.
The system must ensure voters will only be able to cast a single vote either online or by post and the voting technology is capable of operating across a range of digital devices, including laptops, tablets, smartphones, and desktop computers.
"The online voting solution will incorporate district, territorial and regional councils and district health boards," the notice stipulated. "Some local elections will also include other bodies such as community boards, local boards, licensing and land trusts."
With multiple permutations of voting options, the system will need to be able to concurrently operate both First Past the Post (FPP) and Single Transferable Vote (STV) elections voting systems within a ballot paper for some regions.
"The successful online provider will need to build interoperability with New Zealand’s two main election services providers, both of which are presently offering postal voting solutions," the notice stated.
"The online voting system will need to be able to feed the votes cast electronically into the providers’ election management systems so that all votes can be counted, and final results calculated.
"This feed could be done in different ways, from manual transfer to a full automated interface."
The trial may involve a local authority’s full district or city, part of a local authority’s district, or groups of voters with similar characteristics, such as those who might have some disability or who might be out of a district during the election.
Each council will define the scope of their own trial and the scope will not necessarily be the same across each council - the system will also allow for different approaches to order of candidates, alphabetical, pseudo-random and fully random.