In its review of the 2004 Australian Federal election, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) recommended that electronically assisted voting be trialled at the next federal election for electors who are blind or have low vision. The Government supported this recommendation and the trial went ahead at the 2007 election.
Software Improvements worked with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) e-Voting Team and representatives with sight impairment to elicit their requirements, which were then analysed to produce the specification for customisation of the eVACS system. Mr Tim Noonan, a vision impaired representative wrote to Software Improvements "(I) cast an electronic vote last year, which was a nice close to the work I did with the Commission on the usability and design of the system."
Software Improvements used model driven development techniques to design, implement and test the eVACS-AEC system, achieving an error free outcome in a period of less than 12 weeks.
An independent auditor engaged by the AEC (BMM Australia Pty Ltd) found the eVACS-AEC system to be
- Resistant to malicious tampering by users;
- Resistant to malicious tampering by external parties by electronic means;
- Free from malicious source code;
- Presents an accurate representation of votes cast in the printed record without variation; and
- Erases all record of voters preferences when so instructed by the polling official.
For the first time, electors who are blind or have low vision were able to lodge an independent and secret vote at the election.
Mr Darren Fittler, was recently awarded $5000 for hurt and humiliation suffered because the NSW Electoral Commission had unlawfully discriminated against him by failing to let him vote on a ballot paper in Braille. Mr Fittler said that being able to vote on an electronic voting terminal with headphones at the 2007 Federal election "was very liberating" and "a great experience" (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 2008).
A normal Federal election contains two ballots: a single member preferential ballot for the House of Representatives (Lower House) where voters must assign a preference to all candidates; and a multi-member preferential ballot for the Senate (Upper House) where votes can choose to vote for one group or party above the line, or for all candidates in preferential order below the line.