New Zealand PM: “We need to see the beginning of online voting”

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has called for online voting to be trialed in future elections, criticising the inefficiency of postal voting. In an interview with Stuff, Ardern said “we need to see the beginning of online voting in my view, and I have held that view for some time”.

The planned 2016 trials of online voting in New Zealand were scrapped by the previous government, however Ardern has called for these to be looked at again.

There is a correlation between the way people are treating anything via post – and with that being the way we vote, and that needs to change. There’s been talk whether you trial online voting in particular areas first and that is a conversation we need again to have with Local Government New Zealand. There are concerns to ensure it is done in such a way that is accessible and secure – there are very few countries which have moved to online voting, an example is Estonia, but they have only one-fifth of our population.

The previous trials, which were planned by nine councils, were scrapped after the estimated cost rose to $4.2m. With voter turnout in this year’s election expected to be a record low, the plan is to continue pursuing the technology for the 2022 local government elections. Group spokesperson for the nine councils, Marguerite Delbet, told RNZ that regulations and central government funding is required.

The first thing is to get the regulations in place. We’ve got legislation in place but not the regulations, and some clear parameters for whether we can trial online voting for any by-elections that might happen between 2019 and 2022. And whether the government is ready to come to the party to help financially.

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