Normally when an elector attends a polling place to vote, a polling official will search a paper copy of the electoral roll for the name and address of the elector. Once the elector's details are found the polling official places a small black mark next to the name, and/or rules through the name, to show that the elector has attended to vote. The copy of the electoral roll issued to each official is called a certified list.
Once the election is complete, the Electoral Commission compares all the certified lists to establish who has voted. In recent elections, the certified lists have been scanned to improve the accuracy and time taken for the comparison. After the 2004 election the ACT Electoral Commission engaged a company to scan all 918 certified lists. The cost of printing and storage of these certified lists was considerable and the use of large paper lists was becoming cumbersome. Further, after the 2004 ACT election, the ACT Electoral Commission experienced accuracy problems with the scanning of the lists, resulting in a much higher number of non-voter notices being issued than was necessary. (Note: Voting is compulsory)
The Commission identified:
- two key business problems
- the need for a faster, more efficient and cheaper method of searching for and marking voter's names on the electoral roll;
- the need for a more cost effective technique to accurately and efficiently access information as to who has voted, post election; and
- a program (written for the NSW Electoral Commission) that allowed looking at the electoral roll on a PDA for the purpose of checking for the correct electorate of an elector.
Software Improvements was contracted in July 2008 to develop an application for PALM Tungsten E2 devices which would
- replace the full functionality of marking names on paper certified lists, with an electronic system that was approximately as good as the paper system;
- run on the specified (borrowed) PDAs - no other PDAs or devices could be considered;
- each PDA must contain voter information for all three ACT electorates (Molonglo, Brindabella, and Ginninderra) - this is at least 240,000 records (i.e. every PDA has every ACT voter listed on it); and
- on marking an elector as voted, immediately transmit a copy of the change via Bluetooth to a central PDA at the polling place, thereby providing a backup of the voted elector data.
Use of this system at the October 2008 ACT Legislative Assembly election:
Photographs courtesy of the ACT Electoral Commission ©2009
- provided a faster, more efficient way of marking voter's names on the electoral roll,
- saved the printing of numerous copies of the certified lists used by officials at polling places, and
- saved the scanning of every copy of the certified list to identify electors who did not vote or voted more than once.
Software Improvements eVACS® was also used at the October 2008 election.
For more information on the use of eVACS® in the ACT see eVACS® and ACT Legislative Assembly Elections