Vision Australia has reinforced the importance of iVote for the blind and low vision community to the New South Wales government.
The NSW Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is currently holding an inquiry in to the administration of the 2019 NSW State Election.
Vision Australia has made a submission to this inquiry, while lead policy adviser Bruce Maguire delivered a factual and personal account in-person to the committee last week.
Bruce, who is blind, told the committee how iVote’s introduction in 2011 has allowed him to cast a secret and secure vote in NSW state elections alongside the wider community.
“iVote was introduced in 2011, and my experience of voting in state elections changed profoundly and fundamentally. Being able, for the first time in my life, to vote independently, in secret, and with the ability to verify that my voting intentions had been recorded correctly, gave me a sense of liberation and dignity – a feeling that I was now able to really participate in the vibrant democracy that Australians have fought to preserve and which we cherish as a nation,” Bruce said.
“That feeling has not diminished as I have been able to cast an independent, secret and verifiable vote in the 2015 and 2019 elections, thanks to the iVote system. Now I always vote below the line,” he said.
Caption: iVote is vital to allowing people who are blind or have low vision to equally participate in state elections in NSW.
While iVote experienced some technical difficulties during the 2019 election, Bruce said Vision Australia still considers it to be the “gold standard” in regards to accessible electronic voting for people who are blind or have low vision.
Vision Australia, in its written submission to the inquiry, implored the NSW government to ensure iVote remains an available and viable option for voters in NSW.
“Our clients experienced some accessibility issues when using iVote in the 2019 election, but these aren’t an indication the system is systematically flawed,” Chris Edwards, Vision Australia Manager Government Relations and Advocacy said.
“We understand and appreciate that cyber security and other standards change over time and that iVote needs to meet these standards. We’re asking that when the government makes changes to iVote to meet these, they undertake an accessibility audit and user-testing to ensure iVote remains accessible,” Chris said.