25 March 2022
Last week the New South Wales Electoral Commission announced that the iVote platform will be discontinued. The decision to scrap the online voting platform will deny NSW’s blind and vision impaired community the fundamental democratic right to vote in a secret, verifiable, and independent manner.
Blind Citizens Australia condemn this decision, and as the national representative organisation for people who are blind or vision impaired has published an open letter detailing the concerns of the community.
“The decision to decommission iVote from future NSW Elections is disappointing and distressing. The blind and vision impaired community are bearing the brunt of the NSW Government’s clear failure to sufficiently invest in the development and sustainability of the operation of the platform. The decision serves to widen inequality by denying voters who are blind or vision impaired the right to vote in the same manner as other members of the community” said CEO of Blind Citizens Australia, Sally Aurisch.
“iVote was introduced by the NSW Government in 2011. Since then, it has provided people who are blind or vision impaired with a mechanism for lodging a secret, independent, and verifiable vote. The platform must be reinstated immediately and as a matter of urgency. We are asking the NSW Government to commit to ensuring the iVote platform is made available to blind and vision impaired voters in NSW for the March 2023 election.”
“Beyond the state election, a replacement online platform that balances access and security must be created, and it must be co-designed and developed in consultation with people who are blind or vision impaired”
It is fundamental in every democracy that there be equal access to secret, independent, and verifiable voting.
“Our community has a right to participate freely in electing our representatives. The removal of the only suitable voting mechanism for people who are blind or vision impaired violates this right and further disenfranchises voters.”
The decision to remove the iVote platform discriminates against people who are blind or vision impaired and infringes on their right to freely and equally participate in the electoral process. This is a right upheld within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disability which Australia has committed to.
Failure to uphold this right is a failure to our community.
For more information/interviews please contact:
Blind Citizens Australia
Phone: 0499 079337