The three local elections impacted by New South Wales’ iVote system failure last year have all been voided, the New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC) said yesterday evening.
“The Electoral Commissioner regrets the inconvenience caused to these councils and their councillors, but he welcomes the resolution of the matter and will now commence preparations for fresh elections,” the NSWEC said in a statement.
The integrity of local elections in Kempsey, Singleton, and Shellharbour was put into doubt at the end of last year as some people in those councils were unable to cast their vote as the iVote system suffered a failure for a portion of the voting period.
This led to the NSWEC submitting an application to the state’s Supreme Court for the election bungle to be reviewed. After reviewing the elections, the NSW Supreme Court decided to void the three election outcomes, which now means people in those councils will have to recast their vote.
The re-election will use a separate system, as the NSWEC confirmed earlier this week that the iVote system will be parked until after next year’s state election as there is a lack of confidence it will be ready in time.
“The current version of the iVote software used by the Electoral Commission will be phased out and the short runway for configuring and testing a new version before March 2023 means the Electoral Commissioner cannot be confident an updated system adapted for elections in NSW will be ready in time,” the NSWEC said on Wednesday.
Prior to NSWEC’s confirmation that the iVote system would not be used in next year’s state elections, the commissioner had already shelved the iVote system for “extensive reconfiguration and testing” to resolve the issues encountered during local elections.
During the system failure’s aftermath, Dr Vanessa Teague, a cryptographer with a particular interest in privacy and election security, criticised the flaws within the iVote system.
“Every serious investigation of iVote found serious problems,” Teague tweeted in December in light of the iVote failure.
Teague’s comments at the end of last year were not her first in warning about the iVote system’s flaws. Starting in 2015, she and her colleagues found numerous flaws in iVote, problems that NSWEC had previously downplayed.