Victorian government elects open source for e-democracy platform

An inquiry into the potential of e-democracy in Victoria has recommended Internet broadcasting for parliament, the use of videoconferencing for parliamentary committees and the use of open source code for electronic voting kiosks.

The use of electronic voting machines or kiosks is expected to make it easier for people with limited vision or poor English skills to vote.

The Electronic Democracy Subcommittee, chaired by Victorian MP Michael Leighton said the use of open source is specifically recommended so voters can "be satisfied with the integrity of the system".

"We have recommended the pilot of electronic voting machines at large polling places which will be stand-alone units with limited networking capabilities without Internet connections," Leighton said.

"Diebold, the company that provides electronic voting machines, has a contract that is required to certify any new version of proprietary software; these are the sorts of reasons why we should be open source.

"The other principle we recommended for electronic voting is that there is a paper trail -unlike what happened in the US presidential election. The machine would drop a sheet of paper into a sealed box after the vote so if there was any argument afterwards we have the capacity to verify the votes; this is an important principle for public confidence in the integrity of the system."

Leighton said the line for "electronic democracy" would be drawn at Internet voting, and recommendations have been made that this not be considered.

The inquiry also recommended developing training resources and places for public servants to use technology to engage the general public, the possibility of using RSS-styled news feeds from the Victorian government and state parliament, and electronic voting in parliament.

Last week the Victorian Electoral Commission called for tenders for electronic voting machines.