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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Advocacy Groups with Low Vision and Blindness Heavily Criticize Removal of iVote

iVote was first introduced in 2015

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Hrishita Chatterjee
Hrishita Chatterjee
Covering culture and trending topics

AUSTRALIA: Voting services would be limited by blind and low-vision groups following the NSW Electoral Commission’s decision to not commission iVote while the technical mismanagement occurred in the 2021 local elections.

iVote, which was first introduced in 2015, had three sections. iVote includes the telephonic assisted voting that would be implemented in the next elections, automated telephone keypad voting, and internet voting.

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A lot of votes were not counted due to this bungle in three council areas that made the votes go back to the polls.

Bruce Maguire, who is blind and Vision Australia’s lead policy advisor, has been overwhelmed with the serious worries that the group has conveyed, being “disappointed, angry, and upset,” which makes them accessible to only a telephonic voting system that he believed had privacy issues.

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Maguire said, “It’s one of the few instances I can think of where a policy intended to advance human rights has instead been reversed. We are dependent on the person on the other end of the phone, and we are unable to cast our vote if they are unavailable.”

“It doesn’t replace the independence, the secrecy, and the verifiability (sic) we had with iVote,” he added.

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Maguire wanted to ensure the fundamental rights of disabled people by asking the political parties to implement “stronger commitment”.

He added, “(We want to) vote independently, secretly, and verifiably in the same way that everybody else takes pretty much for granted.”

Sally Aurisch, CEO of Blind Citizens Australia, criticized the move to not give the candidate lists in large print, audio, ex-text, or braille.

She said, “We acknowledge that there might be practical challenges, but defining the availability of crucial electoral information as optional restricts our ability to engage completely and equally in the political process.”

In contrast, the Australian Electoral Commission provided these formats for candidate lists and other resources during the most recent federal election,” she concluded.

The NSW EC are not confident that the updated system would be ready in time.

Also Read: Finland Builds Russian Border Fence as MPs Prepare to Vote on NATO Bid


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