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New South Wales’ iVote online voting system failed on Saturday during the state’s local government elections, with an unknown number of voters unable to exercise their democratic rights.
In a media statement released on Saturday evening, the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) blamed “the increased volume of people using the iVote system”.
“Almost triple the number of voters have used iVote at these elections than any previous election,” NSWEC said.
“At the 2019 NSW State elections 234,401 votes were cast using iVote. At close of applications at 1pm today [Saturday] 652,983 votes had been cast using the system since it opened on 22 November.”
Voting is compulsory in Australia. However NSWEC said any eligible voter who “applied to use iVote” but was unable to cast their ballot would be excused from paying the AU$55 penalty.
“The Electoral Commissioner may also determine, after the elections have finished, that other categories of electors should be excused for having a sufficient reason,” NSWEC said.
Curiously, the state’s Local Government Act was amended earlier this year specifically to allow iVote to be used for council elections. This was directly in response to “the challenges of COVID-19”.