1 August 2022
Blind Citizens Australia has lodged a complaint against the New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC), alleging the recent decision to stop using iVote amounts to unlawful disability discrimination. The complaint, made to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), states the decision to cancel the State’s former electronic voting platform infringes on the rights of people who are blind or vision impaired to participate in elections by casting a secret, independent, and verifiable vote.
The NSW Electoral Commission made the decision to decommission iVote earlier this year, and has since confirmed there are no plans to launch an equivalent platform for the 2023 NSW State Election.
In New South Wales, iVote has been the only accessible way for people who are blind or vision impaired to cast their votes secretly and independently.
In the 2019 NSW State Election, over 1100 people who are blind or vision impaired used iVote to cast their vote. More than 94% of these people opted to use the online voting option.
“Other forms of voting – such as telephone voting – still require us to rely on other people to cast our votes, denying us our right to a secret vote,” said Sally Aurisch, Chief Executive Officer – Blind Citizens Australia.
“After the recent Federal Election, we heard from members who were uncomfortable using telephone voting. Not only do they have to declare their voting intentions to a stranger, but there is no way of confirming that their votes are being accurately represented.”
“People who are blind or vision impaired have a right to participate equally and freely in elections. The decision to scrap the only voting platform which truly allowed us to participate equally clearly disregards this right,” she said.
The decision disregards Australia’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which states that Governments must ensure people with disability can effectively and fully participate in elections.
The CRPD protects the rights of people with disability to a secret ballot through accessible and appropriate voting procedures, with the use of assistive technologies when necessary.
BCA’s complaint states that the rights of people who are blind and vision impaired must be fulfilled, through the reinstatement of a fit-for-purpose online voting platform to be made available at the 2023 NSW State Election.
“We have consistently advocated to ensure equal access to voting for our community. We look forward to continuing this work in the Australian Human Rights Commission,” said Sally Aurisch.
For more information/interviews please contact:
Blind Citizens Australia
Phone: 0499 079337