In order to safeguard the voting rights of Victorians who are blind or have low vision, Vision Australia is lobbying Victorian MLCs to encourage an amendment to the Electoral Legislative Amendment Bill 2018, currently being debated in the upper house.
Vision Australia Manager of Government Relations Chris Edwards said it has been 16 years since the Electoral Act was amended, and now is the time for decision makers to take leadership and include “remote electronic voting”. The inclusion would be a vital step towards truly independent and secret voting for people who are blind or have low vision.
“There are close to 100,000 blind and low vision Victorians and those of voting age can’t exercise their right to an independent and secret vote – which is completely unacceptable,” Mr Edwards said.
Victoria lags behind other states like NSW and WA, where remote electronic voting is not only legislated but is available as a voting option through iVote, a system offered to voters with disability and those who live remotely.
“Both states have found iVote to operate smoothly and without security invasions and we can’t see any reason why Victoria shouldn’t implement the same process.
“It’s unacceptable that voters who are blind or have low vision are forced to rely on someone in order to cast their vote, especially since a feasible solution exists.”
Voters like Maria Goumas highlight, quite compellingly, the undignified and arduous task of voting when you are blind or have low vision. We urge you to listen to her compelling account here.
“Unfortunately, Maria’s experiences are common. We recently spoke to a group of young adults who expressed the embarrassment of having to vote. Many of them said that they had never voted independently or in secret and the majority said their parents had voted on their behalf,” Mr Edwards said.
“One young man said he had tried to vote at an electronic voting kiosk but the machine malfunctioned and so a staff member suggested to him, ‘just tell me what you what to vote and I will do it for you’.”
With this rare window of opportunity to influence change to the Victorian Electoral Act, Vision Australia is asking for you to share your concerns with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send your message on to decision makers.